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Science. 2010 Nov 5;330(6005):827-30. doi: 10.1126/science.1195300.

Suppression of antitumor immunity by stromal cells expressing fibroblast activation protein-alpha.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Immunology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Medical Research Council Centre, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.


The stromal microenvironment of tumors, which is a mixture of hematopoietic and mesenchymal cells, suppresses immune control of tumor growth. A stromal cell type that was first identified in human cancers expresses fibroblast activation protein-α (FAP). We created a transgenic mouse in which FAP-expressing cells can be ablated. Depletion of FAP-expressing cells, which made up only 2% of all tumor cells in established Lewis lung carcinomas, caused rapid hypoxic necrosis of both cancer and stromal cells in immunogenic tumors by a process involving interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α. Depleting FAP-expressing cells in a subcutaneous model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma also permitted immunological control of growth. Therefore, FAP-expressing cells are a nonredundant, immune-suppressive component of the tumor microenvironment.

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