We have previously shown that interleukin-1 (IL-1) and IL-6 are constitutively produced by human oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and some derived cell lines but not by cultured normal oral keratinocytes. To elucidate possible cytokine regulatory pathways that may contribute to oral SCC growth and/or progression, we tested the hypotheses that exogenous and/or endogenous IL-1 regulates IL-6 production in vitro. We investigated the effects of exogenous IL-1 and IL-6 on secondary cytokine secretion. Our studies revealed that IL-1 strongly up-regulated IL-6 protein secretion in all three cell lines tested. This effect was completely abrogated by IL-1 receptor antagonist. IL-1 receptor antagonist also inhibited the secretion of IL-1α and IL-1β in two of three cell lines. These data show for the first time that IL-1 strongly up-regulates IL-6 and support the notion of autocrine regulation of IL-1 in certain oral SCC cell lines. Additionally, because human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and p53 mutation have been implicated in the malignant transformation of SCC, we explored a second hypothesis, that HPV and/or p53 mutation contribute to cytokine dis-regulation. We investigated HPV DNA presence, transcriptional activation of HPV E6/E7 (in HPV DNA-positive cell lines), and p53 gene status in our cell lines. No association between HPV DNA and cytokine expression was found. However, the oral SCC cell lines secreting the most IL-6 had mutant rather than wild-type p53.

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This study was supported by National Cancer Institute, NIH, Grants RO1 CA45225 and RO1 CA64906 (to E. A. G.) and DE/OD10846 (to K. A-S.) and through the generosity of a fellowship from Drs. G. L. Clayman and Helmuth Goepfert in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (to K. V. W.).

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