Scientists from NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that aerobic exercise reprograms the immune system to reduce pancreatic tumor growth and amplify the effects of immunotherapy.
The research is published in Cancer Cell and was conducted by Emma Kurz et al.
Exercise-induced increases in levels of the hormone adrenalin cause change in the immune system, including in the activity of cells that respond to signaling protein interleukin-15 (IL-15).
Biological systems that fight disease and repair tissue are intertwined, with IL-15 signaling, based on the context, either encouraging the recovery of muscles after exercise or, in the case of the current work, amplifying immune attack on pancreatic cancer cells.
The team also found that human patients who exercised before surgery to remove their pancreatic tumors had more CD8 effector T cells that expressed a protein called granzyme B, which confers tumor-cell killing ability.
Those patients who exercised and had more of these cell types had 50% percent higher overall survival over five years than patients with fewer of them.
These findings show, for the first time, how aerobic exercise affects the immune microenvironment within pancreatic tumors.
The work helped to reveal that activation of IL-15 signaling in pancreatic cancer might be an important treatment approach in the future.
The work demonstrates that exercise, and related IL-15 signals, can prime treatment-resistant, pancreatic tumors for improved responses to immune-based therapeutics.
That even mild exercise can profoundly alter the environment in tumors points to the potential of this approach in treating patients with a devastating disease burden and few options.
As a result of the current work, the study team launches a clinical trial assessing the immune effects of exercise in pancreatic cancer patients.
If you care about pancreatic cancer, please read studies about this new vaccine may protect against pancreatic cancer, and a new way to kill pancreatic cancer from within.
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