Increasing the expression of a cytokine in the colon cancer microenvironment could be a therapeutic strategy, a research team from the University of Illinois at Chicago reports in the journal Cancer Research.
Dr Ajay Maker is the lead researcher of the study and Guilin Qiao is the first author of the paper. They worked with scientists from the National Cancer Institute and UT Southwestern Medical Center.
LIGHT, or tumor necrosis factor superfamily member 14 (TNFSF14), is an immunostimulatory cytokine. A cytokine is a small protein released by cells to regulate the interactions and communications between cells. The LIGHT protein seems to be involved in the activation of lymphoid cells. Previous studies have shown that LIGHT can stimulate the proliferation of T cells and induce apoptosis of tumor cells. LIGHT in the microenvironment of colon cancer metastases is associated with improved patient survival.
Maker's team now demonstrates in an immunocompetent mouse model of colon cancer that increasing LIGHT expression stimulated cancer-killing T-cells and caused the tumors to shrink. This may be a potential immunotherapeutic strategy for colon cancer, but more research is needed to determine the mechanism.
Colon cancer is the third most prevalent cancer in the world. The disease usually produces no symptoms in its early stage. A lot of patients with colon cancer will develop advanced disease. Once cancer spreads, it can be hard to control. The most common site of metastasis is the liver. It has been shown that patients with colon cancer metastases have low levels of LIGHT.
Dr Ajay Maker and co-workers established colon cancer tumors in an immunocompetent mouse model. The mice were divided into two groups: an experimental group that had the LIGHT protein turned on in the tumors, and a control group.
Mice in the experimental group showed an influx of T-cells, which triggered regression of established tumors and slowed the growth of liver metastases. Collectively, increasing LIGHT expression increased T-cell proliferation, activation, and infiltration, resulting in immune-mediated tumor regressions in both primary tumors and metastatic tumors.
The overall rates of colorectal cancer (colon and rectal cancer) have been in sharp decline since the mid-1980s. However, for people younger than 50, rates of the disease increased during past several decades. These are the results of a separate study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by researchers at the American Cancer Society. One researcher of that study, Rebecca Siegel, noted that "trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden." More effective therapies are in need. Cusabio offers TNFSF14 related proteins and antibodies.