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Neutrophils support lung colonization of metastasis-initiating breast cancer cells

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journal contribution
posted on 22.09.2020, 12:04 by Stefanie K Wculek, Ilaria Malanchi
Despite progress in the development of drugs that efficiently target cancer cells, treatments for metastatic tumours are often ineffective. The now well-established dependency of cancer cells on their microenvironment suggests that targeting the non-cancer-cell component of the tumour might form a basis for the development of novel therapeutic approaches. However, the as-yet poorly characterized contribution of host responses during tumour growth and metastatic progression represents a limitation to exploiting this approach. Here we identify neutrophils as the main component and driver of metastatic establishment within the (pre-)metastatic lung microenvironment in mouse breast cancer models. Neutrophils have a fundamental role in inflammatory responses and their contribution to tumorigenesis is still controversial. Using various strategies to block neutrophil recruitment to the pre-metastatic site, we demonstrate that neutrophils specifically support metastatic initiation. Importantly, we find that neutrophil-derived leukotrienes aid the colonization of distant tissues by selectively expanding the sub-pool of cancer cells that retain high tumorigenic potential. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of the leukotriene-generating enzyme arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (Alox5) abrogates neutrophil pro-metastatic activity and consequently reduces metastasis. Our results reveal the efficacy of using targeted therapy against a specific tumour microenvironment component and indicate that neutrophil Alox5 inhibition may limit metastatic progression.