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MIT scientists discover cancer-fighting role for cells
Date:1/19/2011

lled inflammation, which can further damage the surrounding tissue.

Edelman and HST graduate student Joseph Franses hypothesized that endothelial cells might also play a role in controlling cancer behavior, because blood vessels are so closely entwined with tumors. It was already known that other types of cells within tumors, known collectively as the tumor stromal microenvironment, influence cancer cell growth and metastasis, but little was known about how endothelial cells might be similarly involved.

In the new study, Edelman, Franses and former MIT postdoctoral fellows Aaron Baker and Vipul Chitalia showed that secretions from endothelial cells inhibit the growth and invasiveness of tumor cells, both in cells grown in the lab and in mice. Endothelial cells secrete hundreds of biochemicals, many of which may be involved in this process, but the researchers identified two that are particularly important: a large sugar-protein complex called perlecan, and a cytokine called interleukin-6. When endothelial cells secrete large amounts of perlecan but little IL-6 they are effective at suppressing cancer cell invasion, whereas they are ineffective in the opposite proportions.

The researchers theorize that there is a constant struggle between cancer cells and endothelial cells, and most of the time, the endothelial cells triumph. "All of us, every day, are exposed to factors that cause cancer, but relatively few of us exhibit disease," says Edelman. "We believe that the body's control mechanism wins out the bulk of the time, but when the balance of power is reversed cancer dominates."

The struggle also depends on a third player, the endothelial cells' extracellular matrix structural proteins that pave blood vessels and on which the endothelial cells reside. Endothelial cells only function properly when their extracellular matrix is stable and of the correct biochemical composition. Under normal conditions, if a cell becomes cancerous
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Contact: Jessica Holmes
holmesj@mit.edu
617-253-2702
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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