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The connection between inflammation and cancer was initially recognized by Rudolf Virchow in the nineteenth century. During the last decades, a large body of evidence has provided support to his hypothesis, and now inflammation is recognized as one of the hallmarks of cancer, both in etiopathogenesis and ongoing tumor growth. Infection with the pathogen Helicobacter pylori is the primary causal factor in 90% of gastric cancer (GC) cases. As we increase our understanding of how chronic inflammation develops in the stomach and contributes to carcinogenesis, there is increasing interest in targeting cancer-promoting inflammation as a strategy to treat GC. Moreover, once cancer develops and anti-cancer immune responses are suppressed, there is evidence of a substantial shift in the microenvironment and new targets for immune therapy emerge. In this chapter, we provide insight into inflammation-related factors, including T lymphocytes, macrophages, pro-inflammatory chemokines, and cytokines, which promote H. pylori-associated GC initiation and growth. While intervening with chronic inflammation is not a new practice in rheumatology or gastroenterology, this approach has not been fully explored for its potential to prevent carcinogenesis or to contribute to the treatment of GC. This review highlights current and possible strategies for therapeutic intervention including (i) targeting pro-inflammatory mediators, (ii) targeting growth factors and pathways involved in angiogenesis in the gastric tumor microenvironment, and (iii) enhancing anti-tumor immunity. In addition, we highlight a significant number of clinical trials and discuss the importance of individual tumor characterization toward offering personalized immune-related therapy.
Efferocytosis is the process by which apoptotic cells are cleared from tissue by phagocytic cells. The removal of apoptotic cells prevents them from undergoing secondary necrosis and releasing their inflammation-inducing intracellular contents. Efferocytosis also limits tissue damage by increasing immunosuppressive cytokines and leukocytes and maintains tissue homeostasis by promoting tolerance to antigens derived from apoptotic cells. Thus, tumor cell efferocytosis following cytotoxic cancer treatment could impart tolerance to tumor cells evading treatment-induced apoptosis with deleterious consequences in tumor residual disease. We report here that efferocytosis cleared apoptotic tumor cells in residual disease of lapatinib-treated HER2 mammary tumors in MMTV-Neu mice, increased immunosuppressive cytokines, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), and regulatory T cells (Treg). Blockade of efferocytosis induced secondary necrosis of apoptotic cells, but failed to prevent increased tumor MDSCs, Treg, and immunosuppressive cytokines. We found that efferocytosis stimulated expression of IFN-γ, which stimulated the expression of indoleamine-2,3-dioxegenase (IDO) 1, an immune regulator known for driving maternal-fetal antigen tolerance. Combined inhibition of efferocytosis and IDO1 in tumor residual disease decreased apoptotic cell- and necrotic cell-induced immunosuppressive phenotypes, blocked tumor metastasis, and caused tumor regression in 60% of MMTV-Neu mice. This suggests that apoptotic and necrotic tumor cells, via efferocytosis and IDO1, respectively, promote tumor 'homeostasis' and progression. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings show in a model of HER2 breast cancer that necrosis secondary to impaired efferocytosis activates IDO1 to drive immunosuppression and tumor progression.
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
A defining hallmark of cancer and cancer development is upregulated angiogenesis. The vasculature formed in tumors is structurally abnormal, not organized in the conventional hierarchical arrangement, and more permeable than normal vasculature. These features contribute to leaky, tortuous, and dilated blood vessels, which act to create heterogeneous blood flow, compression of vessels, and elevated interstitial fluid pressure. As such, abnormalities in the tumor vasculature not only affect the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the tumor, but also contribute to creating an abnormal tumor microenvironment that further promotes tumorigenesis. The role of chemical signaling events in mediating tumor angiogenesis has been well researched; however, the relative contribution of physical cues and mechanical regulation of tumor angiogenesis is less understood. Growing research indicates that the physical microenvironment plays a significant role in tumor progression and promoting abnormal tumor vasculature. Here, we review how mechanical cues found in the tumor microenvironment promote aberrant tumor angiogenesis. Specifically, we discuss the influence of matrix stiffness and mechanical stresses in tumor tissue on tumor vasculature, as well as the mechanosensory pathways utilized by endothelial cells to respond to the physical cues found in the tumor microenvironment. We also discuss the impact of the resulting aberrant tumor vasculature on tumor progression and therapeutic treatment.
Cancer immunotherapies that remove checkpoint restraints on adaptive immunity are gaining clinical momentum but have not achieved widespread success in breast cancers, a tumor type considered poorly immunogenic and which harbors a decreased presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Approaches that activate innate immunity in breast cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment are of increasing interest, based on their ability to induce immunogenic tumor cell death, type I IFNs, and lymphocyte-recruiting chemokines. In agreement with reports in other cancers, we observe loss, downregulation, or mutation of the innate viral nucleotide sensor retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I/) in only 1% of clinical breast cancers, suggesting potentially widespread applicability for therapeutic RIG-I agonists that activate innate immunity. This was tested using an engineered RIG-I agonist in a breast cancer cell panel representing each of three major clinical breast cancer subtypes. Treatment with RIG-I agonist resulted in upregulation and mitochondrial localization of RIG-I and activation of proinflammatory transcription factors STAT1 and NF-κB. RIG-I agonist triggered the extrinsic apoptosis pathway and pyroptosis, a highly immunogenic form of cell death in breast cancer cells. RIG-I agonist also induced expression of lymphocyte-recruiting chemokines and type I IFN, confirming that cell death and cytokine modulation occur in a tumor cell-intrinsic manner. Importantly, RIG-I activation in breast tumors increased tumor lymphocytes and decreased tumor growth and metastasis. Overall, these findings demonstrate successful therapeutic delivery of a synthetic RIG-I agonist to induce tumor cell killing and to modulate the tumor microenvironment These findings describe the first in vivo delivery of RIG-I mimetics to tumors, demonstrating a potent immunogenic and therapeutic effect in the context of otherwise poorly immunogenic breast cancers. .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
Within the course of a single minute, millions of cells in the human body will undergo programmed cell death in response to physiological or pathological cues. The diminished energetic capacity of an apoptotic cell renders the cell incapable of sustaining plasma membrane integrity. Under these circumstances, intracellular contents that might leak into the surrounding tissue microenvironment, a process referred to as secondary necrosis, could induce inflammation and tissue damage. Remarkably, in most cases of physiologically rendered apoptotic cell death, inflammation is avoided because a mechanism to swiftly remove apoptotic cells from the tissue prior to their secondary necrosis becomes activated. This mechanism, referred to as efferocytosis, uses phagocytes to precisely identify and engulf neighboring apoptotic cells. In doing so, efferocytosis mantains tissue homeostasis that would otherwise be disrupted by normal cellular turnover and exacerbated further when the burden of apoptotic cells becomes elevated due to disease or insult. Efferocytosis also supports the resolution of inflammation, restoring tissue homesostasis. The importance of efferocytosis in health and disease underlies the increasing research efforts to understand the mechanisms by which efferocytosis occurs, and how a failure in the efferocytic machinery contributes to diseases, or conversely, how cancers effectively use the existing efferocytic machinery to generate a tumor-tolerant, immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. We discuss herein the molecular mechanisms of efferocytosis, how the process of efferocytosis might support a tumor 'wound healing' phenotype, and efforts to target efferocytosis as an adjunct to existing tumor treatments.
Human endogenous retroviruses (hERVs) are remnants of exogenous retroviruses that have integrated into the genome throughout evolution. We developed a computational workflow, hervQuant, which identified more than 3,000 transcriptionally active hERVs within The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pan-cancer RNA-Seq database. hERV expression was associated with clinical prognosis in several tumor types, most significantly clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). We explored two mechanisms by which hERV expression may influence the tumor immune microenvironment in ccRCC: (i) RIG-I-like signaling and (ii) retroviral antigen activation of adaptive immunity. We demonstrated the ability of hERV signatures associated with these immune mechanisms to predict patient survival in ccRCC, independent of clinical staging and molecular subtyping. We identified potential tumor-specific hERV epitopes with evidence of translational activity through the use of a ccRCC ribosome profiling (Ribo-Seq) dataset, validated their ability to bind HLA in vitro, and identified the presence of MHC tetramer-positive T cells against predicted epitopes. hERV sequences identified through this screening approach were significantly more highly expressed in ccRCC tumors responsive to treatment with programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) inhibition. hervQuant provides insights into the role of hERVs within the tumor immune microenvironment, as well as evidence that hERV expression could serve as a biomarker for patient prognosis and response to immunotherapy.
The tumor-cell microenvironment is recognized as a dynamic place where critical cell interactions occur and play an important role in altering tumorigenesis. While many studies have investigated the effects of cellular cross-talk within distinct tumor microenvironments, these interactions have yet to be fully examined in bone. It is well-established that many common cancers metastasize to bone, resulting in the development of tumor-induced bone disease (TIBD), a multi-facetted illness that is driven by complex cell interactions within the bone marrow. Our group has previously published that myeloid progenitor cells expand in the presence of tumors in bone, aligning with the notion that myeloid cells can act as tumor promotors. Several groups, including ours, have established that transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), an abundant growth factor in bone, can regulate both TIBD and myeloid expansion. TGF-β inhibitors have been shown to increase bone volume, decrease bone destruction, and reduce but not eliminate tumor. Therefore, we hypothesize that inhibiting TGF-β will reduce myeloid expansion leading to a reduction of tumor burden in bone and osteoclast-mediated bone loss, causing to an overall reduction in TIBD. To address this hypothesis, two different mouse models of breast cancer bone colonization were pre-treated with the TGF-β neutralizing antibody, 1D11, prior to tumor inoculation (athymic: MDA-MB-231, BALB/c: 4T1) and continuously treated until sacrifice. Additionally, a genetically modified mouse model with a myeloid specific deletion of transforming growth factor beta receptor II (TGF-βRII) (TGF-βRII) was utilized in our studies. Systemic inhibition of TGF-β lead to fewer osteolytic lesions, and reduced tumor burden in bone as expected from previous studies. Additionally, early TGF-β inhibition affected expansion of distinct myeloid populations and shifted the cytokine profile of pro-tumorigenic factors in bone, 4T1 tumor cells, and bone-marrow derived macrophages. Similar observations were seen in tumor-bearing TGF-βRII mice, where these mice contained fewer bone lesions and significantly less tumor burden in bone, suggesting that TGF-β inhibition regulates myeloid expansion leading to a significant reduction in TIBD.
Published by Elsevier Inc.
The cellular microenvironment, characterized by an extracellular matrix (ECM), played an essential role in the transition from unicellularity to multicellularity in animals (metazoans), and in the subsequent evolution of diverse animal tissues and organs. A major ECM component are members of the collagen superfamily -comprising 28 types in vertebrates - that exist in diverse supramolecular assemblies ranging from networks to fibrils. Each assembly is characterized by a hallmark feature, a protein structure called a triple helix. A current gap in knowledge is understanding the mechanisms of how the triple helix encodes and utilizes information in building scaffolds on the outside of cells. Type IV collagen, recently revealed as the evolutionarily most ancient member of the collagen superfamily, serves as an archetype for a fresh view of fundamental structural features of a triple helix that underlie the diversity of biological activities of collagens. In this Opinion, we argue that the triple helix is a protein structure of fundamental importance in building the extracellular matrix, which enabled animal multicellularity and tissue evolution.
© 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
Cancer progression involves the gradual loss of a differentiated phenotype and acquisition of progenitor and stem-cell-like features. Here, we provide novel stemness indices for assessing the degree of oncogenic dedifferentiation. We used an innovative one-class logistic regression (OCLR) machine-learning algorithm to extract transcriptomic and epigenetic feature sets derived from non-transformed pluripotent stem cells and their differentiated progeny. Using OCLR, we were able to identify previously undiscovered biological mechanisms associated with the dedifferentiated oncogenic state. Analyses of the tumor microenvironment revealed unanticipated correlation of cancer stemness with immune checkpoint expression and infiltrating immune cells. We found that the dedifferentiated oncogenic phenotype was generally most prominent in metastatic tumors. Application of our stemness indices to single-cell data revealed patterns of intra-tumor molecular heterogeneity. Finally, the indices allowed for the identification of novel targets and possible targeted therapies aimed at tumor differentiation.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) has catalyzed systematic characterization of diverse genomic alterations underlying human cancers. At this historic junction marking the completion of genomic characterization of over 11,000 tumors from 33 cancer types, we present our current understanding of the molecular processes governing oncogenesis. We illustrate our insights into cancer through synthesis of the findings of the TCGA PanCancer Atlas project on three facets of oncogenesis: (1) somatic driver mutations, germline pathogenic variants, and their interactions in the tumor; (2) the influence of the tumor genome and epigenome on transcriptome and proteome; and (3) the relationship between tumor and the microenvironment, including implications for drugs targeting driver events and immunotherapies. These results will anchor future characterization of rare and common tumor types, primary and relapsed tumors, and cancers across ancestry groups and will guide the deployment of clinical genomic sequencing.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.