Age-related lung changes provide pathway for metastatic growth of dormant melanoma cancer cells

Source: Science Daily, June 2022

Spreading cancer cells that escape a primary tumor site can seed in tissues distant from the tumor, but may take several years or decades to grow into full metastatic cancers. Understanding of tumor dormancy, the process by which this happens, was incomplete. Now, new laboratory research directed by investigators at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that secreted age-induced changes in distant sites such as the lung can effectively reactivate dormant cells and cause them to grow.

The researchers found that age-related changes in the secreted factors from the lung fibroblasts, normal noncancer cells in the vicinity of the tumor, facilitated a pathway for growth of dormant melanoma cells. Age-related changes in the skin microenvironment suppressed the growth of melanoma cells but drove their dissemination, seeding the deadly spread of cancer to distant organs. The results of this multicenter study were published in the June 1 issue of Nature.