Researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center found that a cytokine, a category of protein that acts as messengers in the body, and a fatty acid can work together to trigger a type of cell death previously defined by studies with synthetic molecules.
The study, published in Cancer Cell, looked at cell cultures and in vivo mouse experiments to see how the release of a T-cell cytokine called interferon gamma combined with arachidonic acid, a fatty acid, leads to a type of cell death called ferroptosis via targeting the enzyme ACSL4. Ferroptosis has been found to occur in tumor cells and play a role in cancer immunity. Understanding how ferroptosis occurs could open pathways to make immunotherapy treatments more effective.
“Targeting ACSL4 may help in understanding and expanding possible immunotherapy options,” said Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D., director the Center of Excellence for Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy and lead researcher on this study.