Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tumors disable immune cells by using up sugar

Date:
June 6, 2013
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Cancer cells’ appetite for sugar may have serious consequences for immune cell function, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have learned.

Cancer cells' appetite for sugar may have serious consequences for immune cell function, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have learned.

The scientists found that when they kept sugar away from critical immune cells called T cells, the cells no longer produced interferon gamma, an inflammatory compound important for fighting tumors and some kinds of infection.

"T cells can get into tumors, but unfortunately they are often ineffective at killing the cancer cells," said Erika Pearce, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology. "Lack of the ability to make interferon gamma could be one reason why they fail to kill tumors. By understanding more about how sugar metabolism affects interferon production, we may be able to develop treatments that fight tumors by enhancing T cell function. "

According to Pearce, inhibiting interferon gamma production also may help scientists treat autoimmune disorders in which T cells cause too much inflammation.

The results appear June 6 in Cell.

Pearce's insights arose from her research into the metabolism of T cells.

Like most cells, T cells can make energy either by using an efficient process called oxidative phosphorylation or a less efficient pathway called aerobic glycolysis.

Cells normally make most of their energy via oxidative phosphorylation, but they need oxygen to do so. If oxygen runs short, most cells switch to aerobic glycolysis. Low sugar levels can also force cells to use oxidative phosphorylation for their energy.

Scientists aren't sure why, but many cells, including T cells, switch to aerobic glycolysis when they need to reproduce rapidly. T cells proliferate quickly as they begin to respond to invaders or tumors, and scientists have assumed their switch to aerobic glycolysis was essential for this replicative process.

For the new study, Chih-Hao Chang, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Pearce lab and first author of the study, set up a system that allowed him to control the resources available to T cells in test tubes. Switching the sugars available to the cells let him force the cells to use either oxidative phosphorylation or aerobic glycolysis.

"The conventional view was that proliferating T cells needed to use glycolysis, " Chang said. "We found that wasn't true: they could also use oxidative phosphorylation to support proliferation."

After proliferation starts, the T cells can sustain themselves with either energy-making process. But a problem arose when the scientists forced the T cells to switch from aerobic glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation.

"The proteins involved in glycolysis don't just disappear when glycolysis is turned off -- they're pretty stable proteins, so they can hang around in the cell and participate in other processes," Pearce said. "In T cells this can be a problem since one of these proteins, GAPDH, can inhibit the production of interferon gamma."

When the scientists put T cells in a dish with cancer cells, which regularly consume large amounts of sugar, the T cells' ability to make inflammatory compounds was impaired. But when the researchers gave sugar directly to the T cells, production of those inflammatory compounds doubled.

"It's like an on-off switch, and all we need to do to flip it is change the availability of sugar," Pearce said. "T cells often can go everywhere -- tumors, inflammation, infections -- but sometimes they don't do anything. If we can confirm that this same switch is involved in these failures in the body, we might be able to find a way to put the fight back into those T cells."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. The original article was written by Michael Purdy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chih-Hao Chang, JonathanD. Curtis, LeonardB. Maggi, Brandon Faubert, AlejandroV. Villarino, David O’Sullivan, StanleyChing-Cheng Huang, GerritjeJ.W. vanderWindt, Julianna Blagih, Jing Qiu, JasonD. Weber, EdwardJ. Pearce, RussellG. Jones, ErikaL. Pearce. Posttranscriptional Control of T Cell Effector Function by Aerobic Glycolysis. Cell, 2013; 153 (6): 1239 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.016

Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "Tumors disable immune cells by using up sugar." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130606140452.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2013, June 6). Tumors disable immune cells by using up sugar. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130606140452.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Tumors disable immune cells by using up sugar." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130606140452.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins