Immunocytes can activate tumor growth

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Last reviewed: 16.04.2020

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23 September 2019, 09:00

Scientists representing the School of Medicine at Washington University of St. Louis, noted: immunocytes, designed to protect the body from disease, in some situations, they themselves can help cancer cells. Immunocompetent structures are part of the human immune system, they are involved in the formation of the immune response.

Tumor processes are triggered by damage to healthy cells and their uncontrolled reproduction. However, the growth rate of the formation, as it turned out, depends not so much on the rate of division of malignant cells, but on how quickly they are identified by the immune system.

Researchers explain: targeted destruction of individual immunocytes can slow down the growth of the tumor process in the brain in patients with the NF1 gene mutation (responsible for the coding of the neurofibromine protein). Patients with this mutation are distinguished by a large number of birthmarks on the body. These are benign formations, but at the same time, such people have an increased risk of forming malignant tumors. For example, they are more prone to the formation of a low-grade brain tumor - the so-called optical glioma , which damages the optic nerve, which combines the brain with the organ of vision.

This gene mutation belongs to unstable diseases: physicians cannot predict in advance which tumor the patient will develop, how fast it will grow and what its prognosis is. All this not only greatly complicates the diagnosis, but also interferes with determining the treatment regimen.

To better understand the processes of rapid tumor growth, the researchers identified five lines of rodents with different genetic disorders of the NF1 gene and another part of the genome. It was found that in three lines the neoplasm has already entered the growth stage literally in the third month from birth. In rodents belonging to the fourth line, neoplasms began to develop starting six months after birth, and in the fifth line, tumors did not develop at all.

Then the scientists separated the tumor cells from the carriers and grew them in the laboratory. It was found that their growth rate is not so rapid, regardless of the type of line. A more detailed study of this issue led to the conclusion that the general development of oncology in rodents is explained by the presence of two types of immunocytes in the structure of neoplasms - meaning T cells and microglia. The researchers determined: tumor cells independently produced proteins that attract immunocytes to them. This led to increased education growth.

Information about the study is presented on the pages of the journal Neuro Oncology (academic.oup.com/neuro-oncology/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/neuonc/noz080/5485427?redirectedFrom=fulltext).

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