Regulatory T cells (TReg) are essential to regulating the immune system.
However, there are several different types of TReg cells, and scientists are only now beginning to differentiate among them and understand their functions and roles.
In a new study from Purdue University, researchers found that the gene TCF-1 controls the functions of a specific set of TRegcells.
Without TCF-1, these TReg cells keep their normal repressive function, but they gain additional properties and become inflammatory: They become more activated, increase the cancer signals, and gain a gut-homing feature, resulting in more drastic and dangerous colon cancers.
Patients with colon cancer have these same TReg cells that lack TCF-1in their tumors.
Before this research, scientists knew many of the main regulators, but this is the first time the link between TCF-1 and colon cancer has been explored.
Future drug development could focus on this pathway to treat or ameliorate certain kinds of colon cancer.
The team says it’s extremely important to be able to manage the degree of the immune response.
That’s why understanding these TReg cells is so important. If you have too much of a response, you get autoimmunity. If you have too little, you get cancer.
Healthy systems need to strike a balance between autoimmune disease and cancer, and proper TReg cell function plays a key role in doing that.
In the study, the scientists examined the link between TCF-1 and TReg cells.
They discovered that when they removed TCF-1, the TReg cells changed their behavior, became gut-homing and more numerous.
They studied TReg cell activity in mice that lacked the gene and compared the activity to TReg cells in human patients with colon cancer.
If you care about colon cancer, please read studies about a new way to diagnose colon cancer and findings of aspirin may stop colon cancer growth and recurrence.
For more information about colon cancer and your health, please see recent studies about these two prebiotics may help treat skin cancer, colon cancer and results showing that this imaging tech could detect colon cancer with 100% accuracy.
The study is published in Nature Immunology. One author of the study is Majid Kazemian.
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