Sex differences in the relationship of IL-6 signaling to cancer cachexia progression


A devastating aspect of cancer cachexia is severe loss of muscle and fat mass. Though cachexia occurs in both sexes, it is not well-defined in the female. The ApcMin/+ mouse is genetically predisposed to develop intestinal tumors; circulating IL-6 is a critical regulator of cancer cachexia in the male ApcMin/+ mouse. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between IL-6 signaling and cachexia progression in the female ApcMin/+ mouse. Male and female ApcMin/+ mice were examined during the initiation and progression of cachexia. Another group of females had IL-6 overexpressed between 12 and 14. weeks or 15-18. weeks of age to determine whether IL-6 could induce cachexia. Cachectic female ApcMin/+ mice lost body weight, muscle mass, and fat mass; increased muscle IL-6 mRNA expression was associated with these changes, but circulating IL-6 levels were not. Circulating IL-6 levels did not correlate with downstream signaling in muscle in the female. Muscle IL-6r mRNA expression and SOCS3 mRNA expression as well as muscle IL-6r protein and STAT3 phosphorylation increased with severe cachexia in both sexes. Muscle SOCS3 protein increased in cachectic females but decreased in cachectic males. IL-6 overexpression did not affect cachexia progression in female ApcMin/+ mice. Our results indicate that female ApcMin/+ mice undergo cachexia progression that is at least initially IL-6-independent. Future studies in the female will need to determine mechanisms underlying regulation of IL-6 response and cachexia induction.

Publication Title

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease