Herbimycin A, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, impairs hypercalcemia associated with a human squamous cancer producing interleukin-6 in nude mice

Keiji Moriyama, Paul J. Williams, Maria Niewolna, Mark R. Dallas, Yoshimasa Uehara, Gregory R. Mundy, Toshiyuki Yoneda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine that is produced not only by a variety of normal cells but also by cancer cells. IL-6 produced by cancer cells stimulates the proliferation of these cancer cells in an autocrine/paracrine manner and causes paraneoplastic syndromes including hypercalcemia, cachexia, and leukocytosis. We have reported previously that a human oral squamous cancer associated with hypercalcemia produces large amounts of IL-6, that animals bearing this cancer exhibit elevated levels of plasma IL-6, and that neutralizing antibodies to human IL-6 reverse hypercalcemia in tumor-bearing animals, indicating an important role of IL-6 in the hypercalcemia in this model. Because these cancer cells overexpress epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) with intrinsic tyrosine kinase (TK) activity similar to many other squamous cancers, we examined the effects of herbimycin A, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, on IL-6 production and hypercalcemia in animals bearing this cancer to develop a new approach to treat the hypercalcemia associated with malignancy. Intraperitoneal administration (once a day for 2 days) of herbimycin A to cancer-bearing hypercalcemic mice reduced the plasma levels of human IL-6 and impaired the hypercalcemia. During 2-day treatment with herbimycin A, no changes were observed in tumor size. Of interest, plasma levels of mouse, but not human, soluble IL-6 receptors were also elevated. However, herbimycin A showed no effects on plasma levels of mouse soluble IL-6 receptors. Herbimycin A suppressed the tyrosine autophosphorylation of EGFR and IL-6 mRNA expression and production, all of which were stimulated by EGF. The data raise the possibility that TK inhibitors may be potential mechanism-based therapeutic agents for the treatment of hypercalcemia associated with squamous cancers which overexpress EGFR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-911
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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