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Tumor Turnabout

A cytokine involved in suppressing the immune system may actually activate it to kill cancer cells.

By | May 1, 2012

image: Tumor Turnabout PLAYING OFFENSE: T cells, like the one pictured here, do not attack cancer cells when in the presence of certain signals. New research shows that what was thought to be a suppressive signal may actually help activate an anticancer immune attack. NIAID

PLAYING OFFENSE: T cells, like the one pictured here, do not attack cancer cells when in the presence of certain signals. New research shows that what was thought to be a suppressive signal may actually help activate an anticancer immune attack. NIAID

EDITOR'S CHOICE IN IMMUNOLOGY

The paper

J.B. Mumm et al., “IL-10 elicits IFN?-dependent tumor immune surveillance,” Cancer Cell, 20:781-96, 2011.

The finding

The cytokine IL-10 was previously thought to contribute to a tumor’s ability to suppress the immune system because of its role in reducing inflammation. But John Mumm, Martin Oft, and colleagues at Merck Research Labs have discovered that IL-10 actually has predominantly the opposite effect: it activates CD8+ T cells to attack tumors.

The surprise

Mumm first began to doubt IL-10’s immunosuppressive role when he found that the cytokine activated human CD8+ T cells in vitro. Then, the team discovered that mice lacking IL-10 had more—and more lethal—tumors, while mice overexpressing IL-10 had no tumors.

The results

The researchers found that IL-10 induces the production of additional cytotoxic enzymes by CD8+ T cells inside tumors, making those immune cells better killers. It also causes the T cells to express and release interferon-?, a cytokine that causes tumor cells to present antigens that the T cells recognize and attack.

The application

In mice, treatment with IL-10 controls tumor growth even in large, established tumors. “It opens the door for possible translation into human clinical studies,” says Jay Berzofsky, head of the Vaccine Branch of the National Cancer Institute. Martin and Oft have since founded a biotech to explore use of IL-10 in human cancer therapies.

 

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Comments

Avatar of: RonHorgan

RonHorgan

Posts: 8

May 11, 2012

What a great result!
Does human IL10 status correlate with cancer development?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

May 11, 2012

What a great result!
Does human IL10 status correlate with cancer development?

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

May 29, 2012

Almost to good to be true, but the results seem robust.
 
I have always wondered about the relationship between the inflammatory response and cancer. There seems to be a long standing suggestion that inflammation is involved in carcinogenesis and aging. It appers that what arm of the immune response is activated makes all the difference. Three cheers for the Cd8+T cells.

Avatar of: Douglas Easton

Douglas Easton

Posts: 32

May 29, 2012

Almost to good to be true, but the results seem robust.
 
I have always wondered about the relationship between the inflammatory response and cancer. There seems to be a long standing suggestion that inflammation is involved in carcinogenesis and aging. It appers that what arm of the immune response is activated makes all the difference. Three cheers for the Cd8+T cells.

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