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The spectrum of resistance in SR/CR mice: the critical role of chemoattraction in the cancer/leukocyte interaction

Gregory Riedlinger12, Jonathan Adams1, John R Stehle1, Michael J Blanks3, Anne M Sanders1, Amy M Hicks1, Mark C Willingham1 and Zheng Cui12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27157, USA

2 Department of Cancer Biology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27157, USA

3 Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27157, USA

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:179  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-179

Published: 3 May 2010



Spontaneous regression/complete resistance (SR/CR) mice are a unique colony of mice that possess an inheritable, natural cancer resistance mediated primarily by innate cellular immunity. This resistance is effective against sarcoma 180 (S180) at exceptionally high doses and these mice remain healthy.


In this study, we challenged SR/CR mice with additional lethal transplantable mouse cancer cell lines to determine their resistance spectrum. The ability of these transplantable cancer cell lines to induce leukocyte infiltration was quantified and the percentage of different populations of responding immune cells was determined using flow cytometry.


In comparison to wild type (WT) mice, SR/CR mice showed significantly higher resistance to all cancer cell lines tested. However, SR/CR mice were more sensitive to MethA sarcoma (MethA), B16 melanoma (B16), LL/2 lung carcinoma (LL/2) and J774 lymphoma (J774) than to sarcoma 180 (S180) and EL-4 lymphoma (EL-4). Further mechanistic studies revealed that this lower resistance to MethA and LL/2 was due to the inability of these cancer cells to attract SR/CR leukocytes, leading to tumor cell escape from resistance mechanism. This escape mechanism was overcome by co-injection with S180, which could attract SR/CR leukocytes allowing the mice to resist higher doses of MethA and LL/2. S180-induced cell-free ascites fluid (CFAF) co-injection recapitulated the results obtained with live S180 cells, suggesting that this chemoattraction by cancer cells is mediated by diffusible molecules. We also tested for the first time whether SR/CR mice were able to resist additional cancer cell lines prior to S180 exposure. We found that SR/CR mice had an innate resistance against EL-4 and J774.


Our results suggest that the cancer resistance in SR/CR mice is based on at least two separate processes: leukocyte migration/infiltration to the site of cancer cells and recognition of common surface properties on cancer cells. The infiltration of SR/CR leukocytes was based on both the innate ability of leukocytes to respond to chemotactic signals produced by cancer cells and on whether cancer cells produced these chemotactic signals. We found that some cancer cells could escape from SR/CR resistance because they did not induce infiltration of SR/CR leukocytes. However, if infiltration of leukocytes was induced by co-injection with chemotactic factors, these same cancer cells could be effectively recognized and killed by SR/CR leukocytes.