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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 28;108(26):10662-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100994108. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

B regulatory cells and the tumor-promoting actions of TNF-α during squamous carcinogenesis.

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Centre for Cancer and Inflammation, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London EC1M 6BQ, United Kingdom.


The inflammatory cytokine TNF-α has been recognized as a critical tumor promoter, but the effector cells that mediate its action have not been fully characterized. Because B cells regulate squamous and prostate carcinogenesis, and Tnf(-/-) mice harbor B-cell defects, we investigated the hypothesis that B cells are important effector cells for TNF-α-mediated promotion of cancer development. Using an adoptive transfer strategy and the 7,12-dimethylbenz[α]anthracene/terephthalic acid (DMBA/TPA) two-stage model of skin carcinogenesis, we found that both B cells and TNF-α are critical for the development of DMBA/TPA-induced papilloma. Transfer of B cells from DMBA/TPA-treated wild-type mice to Tnf(-/-) mice rescued papilloma development to a wild-type level, a result not observed when B cells from Tnf(-/-) mice were transferred to Rag2(-/-) mice or when TNF-α was eliminated selectively in B cells. Resistance to papilloma development in Tnf(-/-) mice was associated with increased IFN-γ and CD8(+) T cells in skin and a significant reduction in IL-10-producing B regulatory cells alongside an increase in IFN-γ-producing CD8(+) T cells in the spleen. These data indicate that during DMBA/TPA-induced squamous carcinogenesis TNF-α mediates tumor-promoting activity via regulatory B cells that repress antitumor immunity.

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