IMAGE: Mass. General Hospital investigators have identified immune factors that interact to initiate cancer-promoting chronic inflammation — as in this image of cancer-prone colitis in a mouse colon. view more
Credit: Amir Ameri, MGH Center for Cancer Immunology/Cutaneous Biology Research Center
A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has identified interaction between two elements of the immune system as critical for the transformation of a protective immune response into chronic, cancer-promoting inflammation. In their report published in PNAS, the investigators demonstrate that elevated levels of the immune factor IL-33 and regulatory T cells (Tregs), which suppress the action of tumor-fighting immune cells, set the stage for the development of skin cancer associated with chronic dermatitis and colorectal cancer in patients with colitis.
“Our research has revealed a critical immunological axis that initiates the development of cancer-promoting chronic inflammation,” says Shawn Demehri, MD, PhD, of the MGH Center for Cancer Immunology and the Cutaneous Biology Research Center, senior author of the report. “This axis is chronic inflammation’s ‘Achilles heel,’ and blocking it promises to prevent cancer development in chronic inflammation, which accounts for almost 20 percent of all human cancer deaths worldwide.”
Types of cancer associated with chronic inflammation include
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