From the blog

How the Immune System is Affected by Pleural Mesothelioma

Published: April 26, 2024

A recent study looked at the body’s immune system and how it responds to pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs. Results were published in the journal Pathobiology. The immune cells around the tumor area of 60 pleural mesothelioma patients were studied. The researchers used biomarkers to determine cell types and their impact on disease.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, which is a lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. Pleural mesothelioma is cancer of the covering of the lungs. The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.  Once asbestos is disturbed, microscopic fibers are released into the air, where they are inhaled and become lodged in the lungs and mesothelium.

A recent study looked at the immune system’s response to pleural mesothelioma. The immune system is the body’s natural defense system. It fights against infections and diseases. Immune cells can recognize and destroy harmful invaders including bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.

Samples were taken from 60 pleural mesothelioma patients. Immunohistochemistry was used by the researchers to look at markers on immune cells within tumors. The markers helped the researchers determine the type and job of immune cells. All the cells tested were in the tumor microenvironment.

Researchers found that certain immune markers were linked to a worse outcome. This includes patients with high levels of CD3, CD4, CD8, CD163, and FOXP3+ immune cells. These cells all regulate the immune response. In certain cases, they help cancer cells evade the immune system. The study also examined immune checkpoint receptors. These are proteins on immune cells that help regulate the immune response. Researchers found that higher levels of PD-1, CD27, and TIM-3 on tumor infiltrating lymphocytes were all linked to worse outcomes. Different treatments like immunotherapy can help target these receptors. Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that harnesses the power of the immune system to help fight cancer cells.

Researchers used hierarchical clustering analysis to group pleural mesothelioma samples by the features of each immune cell. There were three groups: high immune cells, medium immune cells, and low immune cells. Patients with a high immune cell count had the worst survival rates. There were also proteins including CD47, CD70, and PD-L1 when found in high levels can act as risk factors. These proteins help the body with the immune response and can help immune cells avoid detection by the immune system. There are some key takeaways from the study. It showcases the relationship between the immune system and pleural mesothelioma. It is possible that targeting the immune cells and proteins involved with mesothelioma could be a promising approach to treating mesothelioma. Future treatments could rely on this information. More research is needed to confirm these findings and to find new treatments for the hard-to-treat cancer.

Shingo Inaguma et al., “Characterization of Pleural Mesothelioma by Hierarchical Clustering Analyses Using Immune Cells within Tumor Microenvironment” Pathobiology (March 25, 2024). [Link]
Contact Us
Have you received a diagnosis? *