J Exp Med Jul 30, 2012Author(s):
Infiltration of specialized immune cells regulates the growth and survival of neoplasia. Here, in a survey of public whole genome expression datasets we found that the gene for chemerin, a widely expressed endogenous chemoattractant protein, is down-regulated in melanoma as well as other human tumors. Moreover, high chemerin messenger RNA expression in tumors correlated with improved outcome in human melanoma. In experiments using the B16 transplantable mouse melanoma, tumor-expressed chemerin inhibited in vivo tumor growth without altering in vitro proliferation. Growth inhibition was associated with an altered profile of tumor-infiltrating cells with an increase in natural killer (NK) cells and a relative reduction in myeloid-derived suppressor cells and putative immune inhibitory plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Tumor inhibition required host expression of CMKLR1 (chemokine-like receptor 1), the chemoattractant receptor for chemerin, and was abrogated by NK cell depletion. Intratumoral injection of chemerin also inhibited tumor growth, suggesting the potential for therapeutic application. These results show that chemerin, whether expressed by tumor cells or within the tumor environment, can recruit host immune defenses that inhibit tumorigenesis and suggest that down-regulation of chemerin may be an important mechanism of tumor immune evasion.