Interleukin (IL)-20 is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis. However, the role of IL-20 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is unclear. We explored the function of IL-20 in HCC. Tumor tissue samples were analyzed the expression of IL-20 and cyclin D1 by using immunohistochemistry staining and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis. To examine the role of anti-IL-20 monoclonal antibody (7E) in tumor growth, BALB/c mice was injected with ML-1 cells and treated with 7E. HCC tumor tissue expressed higher levels of IL-20 than did non-tumor tissue. High IL-20 expression in HCC was correlated with poor overall survival (relative risk:>3). IL-20 and cyclin D1 expression were also highly correlated in HCC patient specimens and 3 human HCC cell lines. IL-20 also increased cell proliferation and migration, and it regulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-13, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, cyclin D1, and p21WAF1 expression in ML-1 cells. 7E attenuated tumor growth in mice inoculated with ML-1 cells. The expression of cyclin D1, TNF-α, MMP-9, and vascular endothelial growth factor was significantly inhibited after 7E treatment. The findings of this study suggest that IL-20 plays a role in the tumor progression of HCC.
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