Ovarian cancer remains a challenging disease, with an average 5 year survival rate of 46%. At time of diagnosis, over 70% of patients have advanced metastatic disease, for which there are no effective treatment options. Of patients with metastatic disease, more than 70% of patients develop peritoneal carcinomatosis, making the peritoneum one of the main areas of dissemination.

We have previously found that expression of the serine protease inhibitor Kazal type 1 (SPINK1) by ovarian cancer cells drives anoikis resistance, allowing the tumor cells to circumvent apoptosis protocols and facilitating tumor cell metastasis. For this new study we focused on ovarian clear cell carcinoma (OCCC), a histotype of ovarian cancer that has particularly poor prognosis if diagnosed in late stage. Using OCCC cell lines, we found that knockdown of SPINK1 reduces cell survival and stimulates apoptotic pathways in OCCC cells, when cultured under attachment-free conditions to mimic metastatic disease. We then identified Interleukin-6 (IL-6) as an upstream regulator of SPINK1 expression and a potential therapeutic target for metastatic OCCC: we showed that IL-6 silencing reduced SPINK1 mRNA expression and cell survival, while treatment with recombinant IL-6 increased SPINK1 expression and attachment-free survival. We developed a new OCCC

mouse model and showed that knockdown of SPINK1 results in significant reduction of metastatic lesions, highlighting the impact of SPINK1 on OCCC metastasis. In ongoing studies we are testing intraperitoneal injections of FDA approved IL-6 inhibitors in a preclinical model to assess impact on abdominal dissemination of tumor cells.

By targeting the IL-6 – SPINK1 signaling axis, we aim to develop therapeutic approaches to reduce the metastatic burden and peritoneal carcinomatosis of late stage disease, resulting in better prognosis and survival of patients with ovarian clear cell carcinoma.

Citation Format: Christine Mehner, Erin Miller, Mathew A. Coban, Alexandra Hockla, Derek C. Radisky, Evette S. Radisky. Targeting ovarian cancer induced peritoneal carcinomatosis by inhibition of signaling axis between Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and serine protease inhibitor Kazal type 1 (SPINK1) [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019; 2019 Mar 29-Apr 3; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2019;79(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 3758.