Abnormalities in the production of cytokines or their receptors have been associated with some types of cancer. For ex ample, abnormally high levels of IL-6 are secreted by cardiac myxoma cells (a benign heart tumor), myeloma and plasma-cytoma cells, and cervical and bladder cancer cells. In myeloma cells, IL-6 appears to operate in an autocrine manner to stimulate cell proliferation. When monoclonal antibodies to IL-6 are added to in vitro cultures of myeloma cells, their growth is inhibited. In addition, transgenic mice that express high levels of IL-6 have been found to exhibit a massive, fatal plasma-cell proliferation, called plasmacytosis. Although these plasma cells are not malignant, the high rate of plasma-cell proliferation possibly contributes to the development of cancer.
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