Biomedicine

Resisting Renegade Cells

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Science  19 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5776, pp. 974
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5776.974a

Despite the many examples involving experimental or clinical stimulation of immune responses to tumor cells, it is not yet clear to what extent the immune system might be able to combat or suppress malignancy on its own. The spontaneous remission/complete resistance (SR/CR) strain of mice is unusual in that it strongly resists challenges with high-dose inoculations of tumor cells that would otherwise be lethal. This resistance segregates as a single-locus dominant trait and correlates with significant leukocyte infiltration of the cancer.

Building on their earlier findings, Hicks et al. report that the infiltrate contains a variety of leukocyte subsets, including T cells, natural killer (NK) cells, neutrophils, and macrophages. Direct contact and killing of tumor cells by these immune response effectors could be measured in vitro, and resistance to both new and established cancers was conferred on wild-type mice by adoptive transfer of either bone marrow or other leukocyte fractions. Notably, SR/CR resistance was maintained even after depletion of B and T cells, revealing an innate immune component of the phenotype. The tantalizing possibility exists that characterization of this locus will improve our understanding of immune-mediated resistance to malignancy. — SJS

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103, 10.1073/pnas.0602382103 (2006).

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