Current liver research: IL-6 trans-signaling is essential for hepatocellular carcinogenesis

8 February 2017

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third-leading cause of cancer-induced death worldwide with rising incidence. The development of more effective therapeutic strategies ist highly warranted. Following this line of thought, CRC scientists around Dr. Dirk Schmidt-Arras and Prof. Stefan Rose-John (University of Kiel, CRC Project C1 “The role of gp130-trans-signalling in liver regeneration and cancer: therapeutic perspective”) could now identify a promising new strategy: They studied the inflammatory cytokine Interleukin 6 (IL-6) and identified one of its two signaling pathways, the IL-6 trans-signaling, to be the central driver of hepatocarcinogenesis. Furthermore, they could show that the specific inhibition of IL-6 trans-signaling, rather than total inhibition of IL-6 signaling, is sufficient to blunt tumor initiation and impair tumor progression without comprising IL-6 classic signaling-driven protective immune responses.

“Based on our findings, we suggest that interference with IL-6 trans-signaling is a promising therapeutic strategy to prevent HCC formation or tumor recurrence in patients. This can be done with the designer protein sgp130Fc which specifically switches off IL-6 trans-signaling without compromising protective immune functions”, explains Dr. Schmidt-Arras, corresponding author of the study.


Bergmann J, Müller M, Baumann N, Reichert M, Heneweer C, Bolik J, Lücke K, Gruber S, Carambia A, Boretius S, Leuschner I, Becker T, Rabe B, Herkel J, Wunderlich FT, Mittrücker HW, Rose-John S, Schmidt-Arras D

IL-6 trans-signaling is essential for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in mice
Hepatology.2017 Jan;65(1):89-103. doi: 10.1002/hep.28874.

Further Information:

You can find additional details about the CRC 841 project C1 here: The role of gp130-trans-signalling in liver regeneration and cancer: therapeutic perspective

Listen to Dr. Dirk Schmidt-Arras when he explains the background und relevance of the study:


online seit 02.02.2017