NKT Cells Fight Cancer

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Science  26 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6008, pp. 1156-1157
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6008.1156-d

One way tumors evade the immune system is by fostering an immunosuppressive environment. Although immune cells such as macrophages are known to contribute to this immunosuppression, whether neutrophils, an immune cell typically associated with inflammation, do too has not been fully explored. De Santo et al. now find that melanoma patients have elevated frequencies of immunosuppressive neutrophils in their blood. This correlated with increased concentrations of the acute-phase response protein, serum amyloid A 1 (SAA-1), in both the plasma and in tumors. In vitro, SAA-1 induced neutrophils from healthy donors to become immunosuppressive. As a way to modulate SAA-1–induced neutrophil differentiation, the authors exposed immunosuppressive neutrophils to natural killer T (NKT) cells, immune cells that can counteract immunosuppression. SAA-1 promoted the interaction of NKT cells with neutrophils, which resulted in neutrophils adopting a proinflammatory phenotype. These results suggest that adoptive NKT cell therapy may be one way to relieve tumor-induced immunosuppression.

Nat. Immunol. 11, 1039 (2010).

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