bims-stacyt Biomed News
on Paracrine crosstalk between cancer and the organism
Issue of 2021‒05‒23
three papers selected by
Cristina Muñoz Pinedo
L’Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge

  1. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021 ;1311 205-214
      Although cancer has classically been regarded as a genetic disease of uncontrolled cell growth, the importance of the tumor microenvironment (TME) [1, 2] is continuously emphasized by the accumulating evidence that cancer growth is not simply dependent on the cancer cells themselves [3, 4] but also dependent on angiogenesis [5-8], inflammation [9, 10], and the supporting roles of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) [11-13]. After the discovery that CAFs are able to remodel the tumor matrix within the TME and provide the nutrients and chemicals to promote cancer cell growth [14], many studies have aimed to uncover the cross talk between cancer cells and CAFs. Moreover, a new paradigm in cancer metabolism shows how cancer cells act like "metabolic parasites" to take up the high-energy metabolites, such as lactate, ketone bodies, free fatty acids, and glutamine from supporting cells, including CAFs and cancer-associated adipocytes (CAAs) [15, 16]. This chapter provides an overview of the metabolic coupling between CAFs and cancer cells to further define the therapeutic options to disrupt the CAF-cancer cell interactions.
    Keywords:  Cancer therapy; Cancer-associated adipocytes; Cancer-associated fibroblasts; Metabolism; Metabolites; Tumor microenvironment
  2. PeerJ. 2021 ;9 e11306
      The tumor microenvironment (TME) influences the occurrence and progression of tumors, and hypoxia is an important characteristic of the TME. The expression of programmed death 1 (PD1)/programmed death-ligand 1 (PDL1), cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA4), and other immune checkpoints in hypoxic malignant tumors is often significantly increased, and is associated with poor prognosis. The application of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for treating lung cancer, urothelial carcinoma, and gynecological tumors has achieved encouraging efficacy; however, the rate of efficacy of ICI single-drug treatment is only about 20%. In the present review, we discuss the possible mechanisms by which the hypoxic TME regulates immune checkpoints. By activating hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), regulating the adenosine (Ado)-A2aR pathway, regulating the glycolytic pathway, and driving epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and other biological pathways, hypoxia regulates the expression levels of CTLA4, PD1, PDL1, CD47, lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG3), T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain 3 (TIM3), and other immune checkpoints, which interfere with the immune effector cell anti-tumor response and provide convenient conditions for tumors to escape immune surveillance. The combination of HIF-1α inhibitors, Ado-inhibiting tumor immune microenvironment regulatory drugs, and other drugs with ICIs has good efficacy in both preclinical studies and phase I-II clinical studies. Exploring the effects of TME hypoxia on the expression of immune checkpoints and the function of infiltrating immune cells has greatly clarified the relationship between the hypoxic TME and immune escape, which is of great significance for the development of new drugs and the search for predictive markers of the efficacy of immunotherapy for treating malignant tumors. In the future, combination therapy with hypoxia pathway inhibitors and ICIs may be an effective anti-tumor treatment strategy.
    Keywords:  Drug treatment; Hypoxia; Immune checkpoints; Immune escape; Tumor microenvironment
  3. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2021 ;1311 173-185
      The tumor microenvironment (TME) is a complex biological structure surrounding tumor cells and includes blood vessels, immune cells, fibroblasts, adipocytes, and extracellular matrix (ECM) [1, 2]. These heterogeneous surrounding structures provide nutrients, metabolites, and signaling molecules to provide a cancer-friendly environment. The metabolic interplay between immune cells and cancer cells in the TME is a key feature not only for understanding tumor biology but also for discovering cancer cells' vulnerability. As cancer immunotherapy to treat cancer patients and the use of metabolomics technologies become more and more common [3], the importance of the interplay between cancer cells and immune cells in the TME is emerging with respect to not only cell-to-cell interactions but also metabolic pathways. This interaction between immune cells and cancer cells is a complex and dynamic process in which immune cells act as a determinant factor of cancer cells' fate and vice versa. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the metabolic interplay between immune cells and cancer cells and discuss the therapeutic opportunities as a result of this interplay in order to define targets for cancer treatment. It is important to understand and identify therapeutic targets that interrupt this cancerpromoting relationship between cancer cells and the surrounding immune cells, allowing for maximum efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors as well as other genetic and cellular therapies.
    Keywords:  CAR T lymphocytes; Immunometabolism; Metabolic barrier; Metabolic competition; Tumor immunity