Inflammation, when driven by tumour-specific T helper cells, may
prevent rather than promote cancer reports a paper in Nature
Communications this week. This work could potentially serve as a basis
for the future development of immunotherapy for cancer.
It is well established that chronic inflammation predisposes to cancer
and anti-inflammatory drugs have even been suggested to treat cancer,
However, Alexandre Corthay and colleagues suggest that
anti-inflammatory treatments may potentially suppress protective
antitumour immunity. In order to test this theory and understand more
about the nature of protective anti-tumour immune responses, their
team quantified locally secreted cytokines during primary immune
responses against certain types of cancer cells that were embedded in
a gel matrix and injected into mice. Using this, they identified nine
cytokines that are consistently associated with successful cancer cell
eradication in their assay. This core includes both T-helper
associated cytokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines – the latter of
which have been highlighted as being essential for tumour progression.
The authors caution, however, that other types of inflammation, or
inflammation that lacks tumour specificity, may not protect and may
even promote tumour development. Care should therefore be taken when
considering anti-inflammatory treatments against cancer. Further
studies will also be needed to discover whether this work can be
accurately translated into humans.