• Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated;
  • chemotherapy;
  • interleukin 6;
  • multiple drug resistance;
  • NF-kappaB

Although it is known that ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) contribute to multiple drug resistance (MDR) in tumor chemotherapy, the exact role of ATM activation in MDR resulting from increased IL-6 expression is still unclear. In the present study, we demonstrate that the activation of the ATM-NF-kappaB pathway, resulting from increased IL-6 expression, plays a central role in augmented chemoresistance in lung cancer cell lines. This result was supported by the increased expressions of Bcl-2, Mcl-1, Bcl-xl, and the upregulation of MDR-associated protein ABCG2. The higher level of IL-6 reveals not only higher ATM/NF-kappaB activity but also increased expressions of ABCG2, Bcl-2, Mcl-1 and Bcl-xl. Most importantly, lung cancer cells themselves upregulated IL-6 secretion by activating the p38/NF-kappaB pathway through treatment with cisplatin and camptothecin. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that chemotherapeutic agents increase IL-6 expression, hence activating the ATM/NF-kappaB pathway, augmenting anti-apoptotic protein expression and contributing to MDR. This indicates that both IL-6 and ATM are potential targets for the treatment of chemotherapeutic resistance in lung cancer.