Research ArticleImmunology

Therapeutic blockade of activin-A improves NK cell function and antitumor immunity

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Science Signaling  27 Aug 2019:
Vol. 12, Issue 596, eaat7527
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aat7527

Enhancing NK cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells with a critical role in antitumor immunity. In the tumor microenvironment, the cytokine transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) acts through its receptor to promote the differentiation of NK cells into a less suppressive cell type, thus inhibiting antitumor immunity. Rautela et al. showed that activin-A, another member of the TGF-β family, had similar effects on both mouse and human NK cells, although in a TGF-β receptor–independent manner. Inhibition of activin-A reduced orthotopic melanoma growth in mice, suggesting that targeting this pathway could therapeutically enhance NK cell function and antitumor immunity.

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