Immune hematology

The researches find that the immune cells within the tumor microenvironment contribute to tumor progression and, importantly, to the tumor’s response to therapy. But To better understand the specific roles different immune cell types play, a multi-institutional team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine profiled the immune cell composition of multiple murine models and clinical datasets of triple negative breast cancers. Because Focusing on two types of immune cells; neutrophils  and macrophages; but they found large diversity in the cells’ frequency, including neutrophil-enriched and macrophage enriched groups whose functionality suggested potential roles in immunotherapy.

Different immune cell types

The work highlights that heterogeneity of both tumor cells themselves and immune composition of the microenvironment are important considerations for therapy. Because The report appears in the journal Nature Cell Biology. “They know that breast cancer is very heterogeneous. For many years we have recognized different subtypes of breast cancer, for instance; estrogen receptor positive (ER+), ER- and triple negative, and these categories can be further divided into subcategories.

To that, we now have to add the diversity of the immune cell component in the tumor microenvironment;” said corresponding author Dr. Xiang ‘Shawn’ Zhang; professor at the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center; and member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine. But With the goal of better understanding the role immune cells within tumors play in tumor growth and in response to therapy; Zhang and his colleagues conducted a series of analyses to characterize the immune cell composition of tumor micro environments in eight murine models and in clinical datasets of triple negative breast cancers.

Tumor micro environments

“Focusing on neutrophils and macrophages; they investigated whether different tumors had the same immune cell composition and whether seemingly similar immune components played the same role in tumor growth. Importantly; we wanted to find out whether differences in immune cell composition contributed to the tumors’ responses to immunotherapy;” said Zhang, a McNair Scholar at Baylor. The researchers found large diversity in the frequency of neutrophils and macrophages among the tumor samples; including some tumors that preferentially attracted macrophages; while others attracted more neutrophils.

The predominance of one cell type over the other can be explained in part by the type of molecules produced by the tumor. As Zhang explained, some tumors secrete molecules that attract macrophages; while other tumors produce other molecules that lure neutrophils to the tumor site. Therefore Interestingly, macrophages and neutrophils seem to work against each other. “Once one type of cell starts accumulating in the tumor; the other will tend to stay away,” Zhang said. “What supports one type of cell, does not seem to support the other.”