Targeting tumor-stromal IL6/STAT3 signaling through IL1 receptor inhibition in pancreatic cancer

Austin R. Dosch, Samara Singh, Xizi Dai, Siddharth Mehra, Iago de Castro Silva, Anna Bianchi, Supriya Srinivasan, Zhen Gao, Yuguang Ban, Xi Chen, Sulagna Banerjee, Nagaraj S. Nagathihalli, Jashodeep Datta, Nipun B. Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the presence of a dense, desmoplastic stroma and the consequent altered interactions between cancer cells and their surrounding tumor microenvironment (TME) that promote disease progression, metastasis, and chemoresistance. We have previously shown that IL6 secreted from pancreatic stellate cells (PSC) stimulates the activation of STAT3 signaling in tumor cells, an established mechanism of therapeutic resistance in PDAC. We have now identified the tumor cell-derived cytokine IL1a as an upstream mediator of IL6 release from PSCs that is involved in STAT3 activation within the TME. Herein, we show that IL1a is overexpressed in both murine and human PDAC tumors and engages with its cognate receptor IL1R1, which is strongly expressed on stromal cells. Further, we show that IL1R1 inhibition using anakinra (recombinant IL1 receptor antagonist) significantly reduces stromal-derived IL6, thereby suppressing IL6-dependent STAT3 activation in human PDAC cell lines. Anakinra treatment results in significant reduction in IL6 and activated STAT3 levels in pancreatic tumors from Ptf1aCre/þ;LSL-KrasG12D/þ; Tgfbr2flox/flox (PKT) mice. Additionally, the combination of anakinra with cytotoxic chemotherapy significantly extends overall survival compared with vehicle treatment or anakinra monotherapy in this aggressive genetic mouse model of PDAC. These data highlight the importance of IL1 in mediating tumor-stromal IL6/STAT3 cross-talk in the TME and provide a preclinical rationale for targeting IL1 signaling as a therapeutic strategy in PDAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2280-2290
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Targeting tumor-stromal IL6/STAT3 signaling through IL1 receptor inhibition in pancreatic cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this