Research Summary: CD1d-Expressing Breast Cancer Cells Modulate NKT Cell-Mediated Antitumor Immunity in a Murine Model of Breast Cancer Metastasis



Tumor tolerance and immune suppression remain formidable obstacles to the efficacy of immunotherapies that harness the immune system to eradicate breast cancer. A novel syngeneic mouse model of breast cancer metastasis was developed in our lab to investigate mechanisms of immune regulation of breast cancer. Comparative analysis of low-metastatic vs. highly metastatic tumor cells isolated from these mice revealed several important genetic alterations related to immune control of cancer, including a significant downregulation of cd1d1 in the highly metastatic tumor cells. The cd1d1 gene in mice encodes the MHC class I-like molecule CD1d, which presents glycolipid antigens to a specialized subset of T cells known as natural killer T (NKT) cells. We hypothesize that breast cancer cells, through downregulation of CD1d and subsequent evasion of NKT-mediated antitumor immunity, gain increased potential for metastatic tumor progression.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this study, we demonstrate in a mouse model of breast cancer metastasis that tumor downregulation of CD1d inhibits iNKT-mediated antitumor immunity and promotes metastatic breast cancer progression in a CD1d-dependent manner in vitro and in vivo. Using NKT-deficient transgenic mouse models, we demonstrate important differences between type I and type II NKT cells in their ability to regulate antitumor immunity of CD1d-expressing breast tumors.


The results of this study emphasize the importance of determining the CD1d expression status of the tumor when tailoring NKT-based immunotherapies for the prevention and treatment of metastatic breast cancer.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 13-June-2011

Author(s): Hix L., Shi Y., Brutkiewicz R., Stein P., Wang C., Zhang M.


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