Effective anti-tumor immune response against HCC is orchestrated by immune cell partnership network that functions through hepatic homeostatic pathways, not direct cytotoxicity

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Effective anti-tumor immune response against HCC is orchestrated by immune cell partnership network that functions through hepatic homeostatic pathways, not direct cytotoxicity

Authors

Koelsch, N.; Mirshahi, F.; Aqbi, H. F.; Saneshaw, M.; Idowu, M. O.; Olex, A. L.; Sanyal, A. J.; Manjili, M. H.

Abstract

The liver harbors a diverse array of immune cells during both health and disease. The specific roles of these cells in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain unclear. Using a systems immunology approach, we demonstrate that reciprocal cell-cell communications function through dominant-subdominant pattern of ligand-receptor homeostatic pathways. In the healthy control, hepatocyte-dominated homeostatic pathways induce local immune responses to maintain liver homeostasis. Chronic intake of a Western diet (WD) alters hepatocytes and induces hepatic stellate cell (HSC), cancer cell and NKT cell-dominated interactions during NAFLD. During HCC, monocytes, hepatocytes, and myofibroblasts join the dominant cellular interactions network to restore liver homeostasis. Dietary correction during NAFLD results in nonlinear outcomes with various cellular rearrangements. When cancer cells and stromal cells dominate hepatic interactions network without inducing homeostatic immune responses, HCC progression occurs. Conversely, myofibroblast and fibroblast-dominated network orchestrates monocyte-dominated HCC-preventive immune responses. Tumor immune surveillance by 75% of immune cells successfully promoting liver homeostasis can create a tumor-inhibitory microenvironment, while only 5% of immune cells manifest apoptosis-inducing functions, primarily for facilitating homeostatic liver cell turnover rather than direct tumor killing. These data suggest that an effective immunotherapy should promote liver homeostasis rather than direct tumor killing.

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