Publication of the month
A UNIQUE IMMUNE MICROENVIRONMENT IN INDIVIDUALS WITH COLORECTAL CANCER
Inflammatory and regulatory T cells contribute to a unique immune microenvironment in tumor tissue of colorectal cancer patients
Girardin, A., McCall, J., Black, M.A., Edwards, F., Phillips, V., Taylor, E.S., Reeve, A.E, and Kemp, R.A. 2013.
Int. J. Cancer. 132: 1842-1850.
- Journal impact factor = 5.44.
Ranking: 26/194 (Oncology)
ERA ARC grade: A
Link to abstract
THE PEOPLE INVOLVED:
Authors from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology under the supervision of Dr. Roslyn Kemp are Dr. Adam Girardin (research technician) and Ed Taylor (PhD student). Collaborators from Otago were Dr. Mik Black and Prof. Tony Reeve (both from the Department of Biochemistry), and Prof. John McCall, Fran Edwards, and Vicky Phillips (Department of Surgery). Confocal microscopy expertise was provided by Claudia Mansell and Prof. Rod Dunbar at the University of Auckland.
SUMMARY OF THE WORK:
Tumours generate immune responses and often contain large numbers of infiltrating immune cells- the complex nature of the immune response means that these cells can either help to destroy tumour cells or can actually support the growth of tumour cells through inflammation. Our research investigated the balance of the immune response within the tumours of colorectal patients. We developed a new approach to simultaneously analyse 64 distinct subpopulations of T cells. We showed that the tumour immune microenvironment of colorectal cancer patients is phenotypically distinct from that of healthy bowel tissue- the tumour environment consists of a higher frequency of regulatory and inflammatory T cells, both of which can support tumour growth and inhibit anti-tumour responses. Effector T cells, which play a key role in eradicating tumour cells, are present at a lower frequency in tumour tissue than in healthy tissue. Most interestingly, we identified populations of cells with a mixed effector/inflammatory or regulatory/inflammatory phenotype, and therefore showed that the tumour immune microenvironment is considerably more complex than previously believed.