MAR 18, 2021 6:30 AM PDT

"Brainwashed" Immune Cells Help Breast Tumors Thrive

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Immunologists have discovered a mechanism through which immune cells get recruited into breast cancer tumors, and instead of destroying malignant cells, immune cells are reprogrammed to help cancer grow.

“Previous studies have shown that infiltration of immune cells into tumors is of great importance for how the tumor develops and that there is a fine balance between infiltration of immune cells that attack the tumor cells and immune cells that can instead protect the tumor cells and help the tumor grow and spread,” explained Margareta Wilhelm, the corresponding author of the article published in PNAS.

Wilhelm and colleagues sought to unravel the mechanisms through which phagocytic immune cells called macrophages end up protecting tumor cells rather than attacking them.

The team identified that low levels of TAp73, a tumor-suppressing protein, are associated with more aggressive forms of breast cancer. TAp73 normally suppresses inflammation by inhibiting NFkB. The dip in TAp73 levels in tumors results in a surge of inflammatory signals.

“Downregulation or lack of TAp73 leads to a condition in which NFkB is hyperactivated and upregulates secretion of the chemokine CCL2 which attracts circulating monocytes into the tumor where they differentiate into a special type of macrophage that supports tumor growth and leads to a more aggressive disease,” said Wilhelm.

Estimates suggest 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer throughout their lifetimes. These findings deepen our understanding of how tumors modulate inflammation and evade capture by the immune system, paving the way for therapeutic countermeasures to reverse them.

 



Sources: Clinical Cancer Research, Karolinska Institute.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUL 27, 2021
Immunology
Rethinking Immune Responses Involved in Skin Hypersensitivity
JUL 27, 2021
Rethinking Immune Responses Involved in Skin Hypersensitivity
A study by immunologists at the University of Copenhagen has revealed a never-before-seen immune pathway invol ...
AUG 07, 2021
Cancer
New Drug Combo Eliminates Pancreatic Cancer in Mice
AUG 07, 2021
New Drug Combo Eliminates Pancreatic Cancer in Mice
A combination of three immunotherapy drugs can eliminate pancreatic tumors in mice. The study was published in Canc ...
AUG 10, 2021
Immunology
A Tapeworm Drug as a COVID Antiviral?
AUG 10, 2021
A Tapeworm Drug as a COVID Antiviral?
A study by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute looking into potential COVID-19 medications has revealed a surp ...
AUG 18, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use Disorder Linked to COVID Hospitalization
AUG 18, 2021
Cannabis Use Disorder Linked to COVID Hospitalization
People with a genetic predisposition to cannabis use disorder (CUD) are more likely to require hospitalization after con ...
SEP 06, 2021
Microbiology
Imbokodo Trial Shows HIV Vaccine Candidate Isn't Effective Enough
SEP 06, 2021
Imbokodo Trial Shows HIV Vaccine Candidate Isn't Effective Enough
HIV vaccines have remained elusive in part because the virus has a powerful ability to mutate, and there are so many str ...
SEP 13, 2021
Health & Medicine
How Farming Shaped the Immune System
SEP 13, 2021
How Farming Shaped the Immune System
In today's society, a rural upbringing is associated with a healthier immune system less prone to allergies and auto ...
Loading Comments...