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Int J Cancer. 2014 Apr 1;134(7):1669-82. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28481. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

Interleukin-33/ST2 axis promotes breast cancer growth and metastases by facilitating intratumoral accumulation of immunosuppressive and innate lymphoid cells.

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Center for Molecular Medicine and Stem Cell Research, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, Serbia.


The role of IL-33/ST2 pathway in antitumor immunity is unclear. Using 4T1 breast cancer model we demonstrate time-dependent increase of endogenous IL-33 at both the mRNA and protein levels in primary tumors and metastatic lungs during cancer progression. Administration of IL-33 accelerated tumor growth and development of lung and liver metastases, which was associated with increased intratumoral accumulation of CD11b(+) Gr-1(+) TGF-β1(+) myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) that expressed IL-13α1R, IL-13-producing Lin(-) Sca-1(+) ST2(+) innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) and CD4(+) Foxp3(+) ST2(+) IL-10(+) Tregs compared to untreated mice. Higher incidence of monocytic vs. granulocytic MDSCs and plasmocytoid vs. conventional dendritic cells (DCs) was present in mammary tumors of IL-33-treated mice. Intratumoral NKp46(+) NKG2D(+) and NKp46(+) FasL(+) cells were markedly reduced after IL-33 treatment, while phosphate-buffered saline-treated ST2-deficient mice had increased frequencies of these tumoricidal natural killer (NK) cells compared to untreated wild-type mice. IL-33 promoted intratumoral cell proliferation and neovascularization, which was attenuated in the absence of ST2. Tumor-bearing mice given IL-33 had increased percentages of splenic MDSCs, Lin(-) Sca-1(+) ILCs, IL-10-expressing CD11c(+) DCs and alternatively activated M2 macrophages and higher circulating levels of IL-10 and IL-13. A significantly reduced NK cell, but not CD8(+) T-cell cytotoxicity in IL-33-treated mice was observed and the mammary tumor progression was not affected when CD8(+) T cells were in vivo depleted. We show a previously unrecognized role for IL-33 in promoting breast cancer progression through increased intratumoral accumulation of immunosuppressive cells and by diminishing innate antitumor immunity. Therefore, IL-33 may be considered as an important mediator in the regulation of breast cancer progression.


4T1 mammary carcinoma; IL-33; NK cells; T regs; dendritic cells; innate lymphoid cells; myeloid-derived suppressor cells

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