Molecularly targeted drugs have yielded significant therapeutic advances in oncogene-driven non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but a majority of patients eventually develop acquired resistance. Recently, the relation between proinflammatory cytokine IL6 and resistance to targeted drugs has been reported. We investigated the functional contribution of IL6 and the other members of IL6 family proinflammatory cytokine pathway to resistance to targeted drugs in NSCLC cells. In addition, we examined the production of these cytokines by cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF). We also analyzed the prognostic significance of these molecule expressions in clinical NSCLC samples. In NSCLC cells with acquired resistance to targeted drugs, we observed activation of the IL6–cytokine pathway and STAT3 along with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) features. In particular, IL6 family cytokine oncostatin-M (OSM) induced a switch to the EMT phenotype and protected cells from targeted drug-induced apoptosis in OSM receptors (OSMRs)/JAK1/STAT3–dependent manner. The crosstalk between NSCLC cells and CAFs also preferentially activated the OSM/STAT3 pathway via a paracrine mechanism and decreased sensitivity to targeted drugs. The selective JAK1 inhibitor filgotinib effectively suppressed STAT3 activation and OSMR expression, and cotargeting inhibition of the oncogenic pathway and JAK1 reversed resistance to targeted drugs. In the analysis of clinical samples, OSMR gene expression appeared to be associated with worse prognosis in patients with surgically resected lung adenocarcinoma. Our data suggest that the OSMRs/JAK1/STAT3 axis contributes to resistance to targeted drugs in oncogene-driven NSCLC cells, implying that this pathway could be a therapeutic target.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research