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Survival niche for cancer cells
Date:6/6/2011

Cancer cells do not grow equally well everywhere in the body. Often, they first create the conditions in which they can grow. Many years ago researchers discovered that solid tumors attract blood vessels to ensure their supply of nutrients by secreting specific factors. Now the immunologist Dr. Uta Hpken (Tumor and Immunogenetics Research Group at the Max Delbrck Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch in the Helmholtz Association) and the hematologist Dr. Armin Rehm (Charit Virchow-Klinikum, Department of Hematology, Oncology and Tumor Immunology, MDC) have shown for the first time that specific forms of lymphoma also create their own survival niche (Blood, doi:10.1182/blood-2010-11-321265)*.

Lymphoma is the term used to describe a group of cancers of the lymphatic system. Lymphoma cells are abnormal immune cells (B cells or T cells), a specific group of white blood cells (lymphocytes). Using a mouse model, Dr. Rehm and Dr. Hpken demonstrated for the first time that the dissemination of lymphoma cells and their accumulation in the lymph nodes or spleen is dependent on specific signaling or growth substances, the chemokines CCL19 or CCL21.

Chemokines normally attract immune cells to a site of infection or inflammation. As former immune cells, lymphoma cells have special antennas (receptors) on their cell surface to which these signaling substances bind. If the lymphoma cells receive the signal via their CCR7 receptor, they migrate into the lymph nodes and into specific areas within the spleen.

Paradox

CCR7 not only mediates the migration of the lymphoma cells, it is also apparently crucial for their development and survival. As the two researchers showed in a next step, the lymphoma cells proliferate in the lymph nodes or in the spleen very slowly if this receptor is absent.

However, with the aid of CCR7 the cancer cells find their survival niche in the T-cell zones of the lymph nodes and the sp
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Contact: Barbara Bachtler
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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