Link between obesity with oral cancer immune escape: Study

ANI | | Posted by Tapatrisha Das, Michigan
May 17, 2023 10:43 AM IST

The study explores how obesity helps in the formation of a microenvironment which promoted tumour growth.

A mechanism for how obesity impacts the capacity of some oral malignancies to bypass the immune system has been uncovered in a study.

Oral cancer patients with less circulating tumour cells live longer than those with more: Study(Pexels)
Oral cancer patients with less circulating tumour cells live longer than those with more: Study(Pexels)

A team from the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and School of Dentistry, led by Yu Leo Lei, D.D.S., Ph.D. Obesity helps to produce a sort of tumour microenvironment that promotes tumour growth, according to this study published in Cell Reports. The link between saturated fatty acids, the STING-type-I interferon pathway, and NLRC3 explains how this happens.

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"We tend to think about the increased risks for gastrointestinal tumors, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and ovarian cancer when it comes to obesity," said Lei, a pathologist-immunologist and lead author of this study. "Multiple recent prospective cohorts involving millions of individuals from several continents revealed a previously underappreciated link between obesity and oral cancer risks."

"Myeloid cells in obese mice were insensitive to STING agonists and were more suppressive of T cell activation compared to the myeloid cells from leans hosts," explained Lei. This feature drove the loss of immune subsets that were crucial for anti-tumor immunity in the tumor microenvironment.

The team found that saturated fatty acids can block the STING pathway, which is induced by cytosolic DNA and promotes antigen-presenting cell maturation, by inducing a protein called NLRC3.

Lei says this is the first study establishing a mechanistic link between obesity with oral cancer immune escape. "We're excited about the translational implications," he continued.

Obesity is a common comorbidity in cancer patients. Two recent studies found that oral cancer patients who were on statins--medicines that lower cholesterol--showed improved overall and cancer-specific survival. "This study establishes a mechanistic link for those observations and highlights the potential of targeting fatty acids metabolism in remodeling the host anti-tumor immune response," said Lei.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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