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Regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses by Stat-3 signaling in tumor cells

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 01 February 2004


Although tumor progression involves processes such as tissue invasion that can activate inflammatory responses, the immune system largely ignores or tolerates disseminated cancers. The mechanisms that block initiation of immune responses during cancer development are poorly understood. We report here that constitutive activation of Stat-3, a common oncogenic signaling pathway, suppresses tumor expression of proinflammatory mediators. Blocking Stat-3 in tumor cells increases expression of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines that activate innate immunity and dendritic cells, leading to tumor-specific T-cell responses. In addition, constitutive Stat-3 activity induces production of pleiotropic factors that inhibit dendritic cell functional maturation. Tumor-derived factors inhibit dendritic cell maturation through Stat-3 activation in progenitor cells. Thus, inhibition of antitumor immunity involves a cascade of Stat-3 activation propagating from tumor to dendritic cells. We propose that tumor Stat-3 activity can mediate immune evasion by blocking both the production and sensing of inflammatory signals by multiple components of the immune system.

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Figure 1: Blocking Stat-3 in tumor cells increases proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression.
Figure 2: Constitutive Stat-3 activity inhibits cytokine and chemokine gene expression.
Figure 3: Blocking Stat-3 in tumor cells stimulates macrophages and neutrophils.
Figure 4: Stat-3-interrupted tumor cells activated dendritic cells and naive antigen-specific T cells.
Figure 5: Stat-3 signaling induces expression of factors that inhibit dendritic cell maturation.
Figure 6: Stat-3 signaling mediates inhibition of dendritic cell maturation.


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We thank S. Akira and K. Takeda for Stat3flox mice, D. Link for the Stat-3C and Stat-3D retrovirus–producing cell lines, J. Bromberg for the Stat-3C plasmid and H. von Boehmer for CD4+ TCR transgenic mice. This work is supported by US National Institutes of Health grants, by the Dr. Tsai-fan Yu Cancer Research Endowment and by gifts from Mrs. Dorothy Needle, William and Betty Topercer, Jack Goldsmith, the Janey Fund and the Seraph Foundation.

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Correspondence to Drew Pardoll or Hua Yu.

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Wang, T., Niu, G., Kortylewski, M. et al. Regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses by Stat-3 signaling in tumor cells. Nat Med 10, 48–54 (2004).

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