- Melanoma is a highly malignant skin cancer affecting the pigment producing
cells of the skin.
- Studies have shown that patients with melanoma who develop
vitiligo, an autoimmune disease have a better prognosis.
- Current study reveals that the immune T-cells of the skin,
responsible for causing vitiligo, also protect against melanoma.
residing in the skin, namely the memory T-cells could provide effective and
longterm immunity against melanoma, according to a team of scientists at Dartmouth's
Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
for the Study
research team led by Mary Jo Turk, PhD, wanted to find the reason behind why vitiligo occurring in melanoma improved the
with such patients surviving much longer and some even achieving
‘Stimulation of resident T-cells in the skin shown to effectively kill melanoma cancer cells could form the basis of future therapy against skin cancer.’
have been published studies that have clearly shown that persons with vitiligo have a 3 times reduced risk of developing
which appeared in The British journal of
dermatology. 168(1):162-71, Jan 2013 H E Teulings; M Overkamp et al;
and Findings of the Study
a mouse model of skin cancer
and vitiligo, the research team were able
to show that T-cells in the skin which
attacked normal pigmented cells (melanocytes) in vitiligo were also able to attack and mount an immune
response against cancerous melanocytes in melanoma
i.e. the target of the
immune T-cell was the melanocyte in both cases.
current study thus demonstrated that T-cells found in the skin are also more
than capable of killing melanoma cells and
providing effective and longterm immunity against future tumors too
findings of the current study have challenged the long held notion that immune
T-cells that provide immunity against cancers are present only in lymphoid
tissues such as lymph nodes and spleen, and when activated, reach the tumor
cell site via the bloodstream.
"Our studies challenge this
long-held belief by showing that tumor-killing T cells already reside in skin,
where they can rapidly respond and kill melanoma cells" said Turk.
is a skin condition where depigmented white patches occur on the skin
in various parts of the body.
is believed that vitiligo is an autoimmune disease
person's immune T-cells mistakenly perceive the pigmented cells in the skin
(melanocytes) as foreign, and attack and destroy them. Destruction of pigment producing cells
therefore leads to
depigmented patches forming in various parts of the body.
Basis For Inverse Association Between Vitiligo And Melanoma
addition to the immunity against melanoma provided by the cytotoxic T-cells in
vitiligo, there is a genetic basis for this inverse relationship.
have shown that the TYR gene allele
which is a risk factor for development of vitiligo confers protection against
melanoma and vice versa
original article to this effect appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine
by Ying Jin et al - N
Engl J Med 2010; 362:1686-1697May 6, 2010DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0908547
titled 'Variant of TYR
Autoimmunity Susceptibility Loci in Generalized Vitiligo'.
Plans for Future Research
research plans to validate the findings of the current study include
- Looking for the presence of
immune T-cells in the skin of human patients
- To look for these T-cells in other organs such as lungs where
melanoma is known to spread.
- Based on the current findings, future research for skin cancer
therapy could be based on the generation of such T-cells
can conclude with the words of the lead author, "While we have
shown that these T cells can kill melanoma in skin, we still need to determine
whether they exist in other organs such as lung, where metastatic melanoma
grows. Since our study identifies that
resident memory T cells are critical for protection against tumors, and that T
cells in skin provide long-term immunity to melanoma, the generation of such
cells should be the goal of future cancer therapies."
- Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public - (https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/vitiligo/vitiligo_ff.asp#b)
- Is there any known anticorrelation between cancer and autoimmunity? - (https://www.researchgate.net/post/Is_there_any_known_anticorrelation_between_cancer_and_autoimmunity)