MADRID, 21 Jul. (EUROPA PRESS) –
Experiments carried out by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Boston University School of Medicine, in the United States, have revealed the details of how cancer cells that spread, or metastasize, to the lymph nodes usually avoid be eliminated by immune cells, which could help scientists develop strategies to overcome it, as published in ‘Nature Biomedical Engineering’.
“We know that the lymph nodes are often the first place cancer spreads as it progresses. We also know that our immune system can attack and kill cancer cells,” explains lead author and co-correspondent Timothy P. Padera, researcher. in Radiation Oncology at MGH and an MGH Research Fellow from 2021-2026.
“One of the perplexing questions that has been at the center of recent work in my lab is how can the organs that generate our immune responses – the lymph nodes – allow cancer cells to survive and take over instead of attacking them. was the motivation for this study, “he continues.
By analyzing tissue from patients with breast, colon, and head and neck cancers, combined with animal models of lymph node metastasis from breast cancer, Padera and his colleagues demonstrated that immune cells called T cells are abundant in the lymph nodes. metastatic lymphatics, but fail to penetrate tumors that have spread to these nodes.
The team measured the increase in physical forces, known as solid stress, in lymph nodes with metastatic cancer. “Our hypothesis is that robust stress on lymph node tumors may impair both the blood flow and the T-cell trafficking capacity of the lymph node blood vessels,” explains lead author and study co-author Dr. Dennis Jones, an associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
The scientists then developed a device to compress the lymph nodes in order to simulate the gradual growth of metastases in them. When they applied compression force to the lymph nodes, a clear relationship was observed between physical force and disruption of T-cell entry into the lymph nodes.
“Our findings indicate that, as cancer cells grow in the lymph node, they reorganize and alter it, disabling critical functional responses of the immune system,” says Padera. “By understanding how cancer cells disable the function of the lymph nodes we hope to fight back to help the lymph nodes generate immune responses against cancer, which will help fight cancer cells throughout the body. “
Relieving solid stress with the blood pressure drug losartan increased the number of blood vessels and T cells in lymph node metastases, suggesting that relieving solid stress is a potential strategy to enhance T cell entry into tumors.
“Our work now leads to many important additional questions,” says Jones. “Does the treatment with losartan combined with immunotherapy cause the eradication of metastatic cancer cells in the lymph nodes by eliminating the T cells? Does this lead to a strong systemic immune response against cancer that helps eliminate it from the entire body? ” He believes that finding the answers to these questions could lead to new treatment strategies for patients with metastatic cancer.