Formation of Interferon-beta (IFN-β) is increased in infections and cancer diseases. Consequently, it is often administered therapeutically. Amongst other things, it prevents formation of new blood vessels within a tumour, thus inhibiting its growth.
Fluorescence image showing a neutrophil (in red) going out of the blood vessel (in green) into a tumour. These immune cells facilitate tumour vessel growth.
Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) have now discovered that IFN-β does so by impeding the communication between cancer tissue and immune cells. Their findings, published in the scientific magazine “International Journal of Cancer”, help to understand how this “jamming” can be used therapeutically.
Just like healthy cells, tumour cells need nutrients and oxygen in order to survive. For this reason, a tumour of a certain size has to ensure that it is connected to the blood circulation. In doing this, it is supported by cells of the innate immune system, the neutrophil granulocytes or brief neutrophils, which are supposed to protect the body against pathogens.
Neutrophils normally circulate in the blood until—attracted by so-called chemokines—they enter the tissue where they ingest and destroy intruding pathogens. In addition, these cells are able to trigger the formation of blood vessels. Presumably, this is how they help to repair tissue which has been destroyed by inflammation. However, neutrophils are also able to enter cancer tissue and contribute to its connection to the blood supply. This is probably the reason why detection of numerous neutrophils in a tumour is a sign of unfavourable patient prognosis.
IFN-β is used as a treatment for some tumours such as melanomas and leukaemia. Scientists at the HZI in Braunschweig had shown recently that this messenger molecule can interfere with cancer growth by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels. However, the way it does so remained a puzzle.
Now, researchers have succeeded in revealing the effect of IFN-β on migration of pro-tumour neutrophils. “We wanted to understand why IFN-β prevents the neutrophils from entering the tumour,” says Dr Jadwiga Jablonska-Koch, scientist in the “Molecular Immunology” department at the HZI. “This would be the way for physicians to improve existing therapies and choose appropriate treatment for the individual patient.”
To this end, the scientists followed the interaction between the cells. Messenger molecules such as chemokines are a means of communication frequently used for this purpose. They are produced by cells and bind to correspondingly shaped surface receptors. In the case of neutrophils, this is the receptor called CXCR2. It binds the chemokines CXCL1, CXCL2 and CXCL5. “We have seen that the concentration of the chemokines in the bone marrow, where the neutrophils originate, is low,” says Dr Siegfried Weiss, head of the department in which Jablonska-Koch works. “On the other hand, we find a high concentration in the tumour, which attracts the neutrophils.” Neutrophils migrate along the chemokine gradient into the tumour and once there, they themselves release the same chemokines in order to attract other neutrophils to obtain more support.
IFN-β interferes with this communication: it makes the cells in the tumour produce fewer chemokines and no chemokine gradient is formed. “That way, fewer neutrophils enter the cancer tissue and fewer new blood vessels are formed,” says Jablonska-Koch. “The tumour is not effectively connected to the vital blood supply and cannot grow efficiently.” For that reason it is of therapeutical benefit to administer IFN-β additionally. “We now better understand why IFN-β helps in some cancers and that it is an important part of the body’s own system for combating tumours,” says Weiss. Their findings could help physicians to assess which patients might profit from administering IFN-β and when neutrophils ought to be an objective of cancer therapy.Original publication
Dr. Birgit Manno | Helmholtz-Zentrum
Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering