Johns Hopkins University’s scientists have discovered that breast cancer cells can change the function in natural killer cells so they prevent metastases.
Natural killer (NK) cells play a significant role in the body’s defense against tumors and viral infections. The antitumor capacity involves an antimetastatic component, but it is now known that tumor cells can evade the antimetastatic effect of NK cells. Invasive breast cancer cells are vulnerable to healthy NK cells (unchanged NK cells not exposed to a tumor environment). The researchers found that NK cells exposed to cancer cells lose their cytotoxic and antimetastatic properties, allowing metastatic growth to proceed. The goal of a recent study was to determine how metastatic breast cancer cells escape NK-cell antimetastatic activity.