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Certain cancer therapies' success depends on presence of immune cell, Stanford study shows in mice
Date:10/27/2010

ll of us had assumed that most of the effects we saw on the tumor were relatively independent of the microenvironment of the host."

In contrast, Felsher and his colleagues found that disabling an oncogene called Myc in mice with Myc-dependent leukemias caused complete regression of tumors only in mice with intact immune systems. Tumors in mice with completely or partially compromised immune systems shrank more slowly and were left with a thousand-fold more residual disease. These tumors were also significantly more likely to recur during the 80 days after treatment was stopped.

When the researchers investigated more closely, they found that it was the absence of a type of T cell called CD4 helper cells that was responsible for the differences in recurrence rates (28.5 percent of animals lacking CD4-positive cells had tumor recurrence vs. none in animals missing another type of T cell called a CD8-positive cell). After the researchers added CD4-positive cells to immunocompromised animals, the mice regained the ability to eliminate the tumor and none experienced tumor recurrence during the follow-up period.

Examining the tumor cells after Myc inactivation indicated that the differences in tumor regression and recurrence were not due to an inability of the immune-compromised animals to trigger tumor cell death (known as apoptosis) or to stop the cells from dividing. Rather, the cancer cells in the immunocompromised animals were less likely to slide into a state of inactivity called senescence and, unlike in the wild-type mice, continued to recruit new blood vessels to the tumor site (a process called angiogenesis).

"This was already provocative," said Felsher. "When the immune system was impaired, the treatment didn't work as well. But we then went a step further. We wanted to know specifically what it was about the CD4-positive cells that influenced tumor regression and recurrence."

They began by looking at signaling molecu
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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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