Targeting the gp130/STAT3 Axis Attenuates Tumor Microenvironment Mediated Chemoresistance in Group 3 Medulloblastoma Cells Sreenivasan, Lakshana; Li, Ling Vicky; Leclair, Pascal; Lim, Chinten James
Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor. Of the four molecular subgroups, Group 3 MB is the most aggressive and has the worst prognosis. To understand the origins of chemoresistance involving IL-6/STAT3 signaling, we used in vitro co-culture systems to investigate the contribution of microglia as a brain tumor microenvironment cellular source of paracrine cytokines that promotes acquired drug resistance in Group 3 MB. MB cells subjected to co-culture with microglia exhibited increased expression of phosphorylated JAK1 and STAT3, which was correlated with enhanced resistance to vincristine. We found that both microglia and MB cells co-cultured with microglia secreted significant quantities of IL-6, indicating that IL-6 is a paracrine and autocrine cytokine able to initiate and sustain STAT3 activity in MB cells. Surprisingly, IL-6R−/− MB cells, which cannot respond to exogenous IL-6 stimuli, were responsive to microglia co-culture induced activation of STAT3 and chemoresistance. Subsequently, we found that MB cells conditioned in vitro with the IL-6 family cytokines, IL-6, OSM, LIF, or IL-11, exhibited enhanced JAK1/STAT3 activity and chemoresistance. Intriguingly, MB cells conditioned with any one of the IL-6 family cytokine secreted multiple IL-6 family cytokines, implicating a feedback network involving multiple cytokines. The IL-6 family cytokine receptors share a common signal transducing β-subunit, gp130, which may be targeted to mitigate tumor chemoresistance. We showed that microglia co-culture failed to induce chemoresistance of gp130−/− MB cells, and that combination treatment using gp130 inhibitors, or with the JAK inhibitor ruxolitinib, effectively overcame the observed resistance to vincristine in gp130 expressing MB cells. Our in vitro studies highlight the gp130/JAK/STAT pathway as a therapeutic target in combating acquired treatment resistance in Group 3 MB.
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