For a number of cancers the presence of immune cells known as an NKT cells in the tumor is associated with a better prognosis. It has therefore been suggested that more aggressive tumors have developed strategies to prevent them from being infiltrated by NKT cells.
A new study, published online on August 16 in advance of publication in the September print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, shows that this is the case. The pathway used by tumors to prevent NKT cell infiltration might provide researchers with new targets for the development of new treatments for cancer.
In the study, Leonid Metelitsa and colleague from Childrens Hospital Los Angeles show in vitro that expression of a protein known as MYCN, which has been associated with many different types of cancer, by neuroblastoma cells decreases their secretion of a soluble factor (CCL2) that attracts NKT cells.
Similarly, in mice, NKT cells were largely inhibited from invading neuroblastomas overexpressing MYCN. Furthermore, individuals with neuroblastomas that expressed high levels of MYCN and whose cancer had spread to the bone marrow had substantially fewer NTK cells in their bone marrow than individuals with neuroblastomas that expressed low levels of MYCN and whose cancer had spread to the bone marrow.
The authors therefore suggest that enhancing NKT cell localization to the tumor should be considered when designing new cancer therapeutics.
Article: Oncogene MYCN regulates localization of NKT cells to the site of disease in neuroblastoma
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