Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Interleukin-6 production in high-grade B lymphomas: correlation with the presence of malignant immunoblasts in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and in human immunodeficiency virus-seronegative patients

  1. D Emilie,
  2. J Coumbaras,
  3. M Raphael,
  4. O Devergne,
  5. HJ Delecluse,
  6. C Gisselbrecht,
  7. JF Michiels,
  8. J Van Damme,
  9. T Taga, and
  10. T Kishimoto
  1. INSERM U131, Clamart, France.


The mechanisms leading to malignant cell proliferation may differ between the different histologic forms of high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. To analyze the potential role of interleukin-6 (IL-6) as a growth factor for lymphomatous cells in these different forms, the in situ production of this cytokine was analyzed in lymphomatous samples taken from 24 patients, 18 of whom were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected. Eleven Burkitt's lymphomas (BLs), seven diffuse large- cell lymphomas, and six immunoblastic lymphomas were studied. In situ hybridization experiments showed that the IL-6 gene was expressed in all tissues. The number of IL-6 gene-expressing cells was 7 times higher in the non-BLs than in the BLs, and it was 17 times higher than that of 14 control lymph nodes displaying a benign follicular hyperplasia. Analysis of individual cases indicated that the level of IL-6 gene expression was strongly correlated with the presence of immunoblasts within the malignant clone. In contrast, this level was not correlated with the presence of Epstein-Barr virus genome in the lymphoma or with the HIV status of patients. Immunohistochemical studies with an anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody showed that IL-6 was produced in non-BLs, but not in BLs. In the former, IL-6 mainly originated from reactive, nonmalignant cells. Immunohistochemical analyses of non-BLs also showed that malignant cells produced the 80-Kd chain of the IL-6 receptor. Taken together, these results suggest that IL-6 may act as a growth factor in some forms of high-grade B lymphomas. The presence of immunoblasts may be an indicator of such forms.