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Büchel, Gabriele; Schulte, Johannes H.; Harrison, Luke; Batzke, Katharina; Schüller, Ulrich; Hansen, Wiebke and Schramm, Alexander (2016): Immune response modulation by Galectin-1 in a transgenic model of neuroblastoma. In: Oncoimmunology, Vol. 5, No. 5, e1131378

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Galectin-1 (Gal-1) has been described to promote tumor growth by inducing angiogenesis and to contribute to tumor immune escape by promoting apoptosis of activated T cells. We had previously identified upregulation of Gal-1 in preclinical models of aggressive neuroblastoma (NB), a solid tumor of childhood. However, the clinical and biological relevance of Gal-1 in this tumor entity is unclear. Here, the effect of Gal-1 on the immune system and tumorigenesis was assessed using modulation of Gal-1 expression in immune effector cells and in a transgenic NB model, designated TH-MYCN. The fraction of CD4(+) T cells was decreased in tumor-bearing TH-MYCN mice compared to tumor-free littermates, while both CD4(+) T cells as well as CD8(+) T cells were less activated, compatible with a reduced immune response in tumor-bearing mice. Tumor incidence was not significantly altered by decreasing Gal-1/LGALS1 gene dosage in TH-MYCN mice, but TH-MYCN/Gal-1(-/-) double transgenic mice displayed impaired tumor angiogenesis, splenomegaly, and impaired T cell tumor-infiltration with no differences in T cell activation and apoptosis rate. Additionally, a lower migratory capacity of Gal-1 deficient CD4(+) T cells toward tumor cells was observed in vitro. Transplantation of TH-MYCN-derived tumor cells into syngeneic mice resulted in significantly reduced tumor growth and elevated immune cell infiltration when Gal-1 was downregulated by shRNA. We therefore conclude that T cell-derived Gal-1 mediates T cell tumor-infiltration, whereas NB-derived Gal-1 promotes tumor growth. This opposing effect of Gal-1 in NB should be considered in therapeutic targeting strategies, as currently being developed for other tumor entities.

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