Spontaneous Regression/Complete Resistant (SR/CR) mice are a colony of cancer-resistant mice that can detect and rapidly destroy malignant cells with innate cellular immunity, predominately mediated by granulocytes. Our previous studies suggest that several effector mechanisms, such as perforin, granzymes, or complements, may be involved in the killing of cancer cells. However, none of these effector mechanisms is known as critical for granulocytes. Additionally, it is unclear which effector mechanisms are required for the cancer killing activity of specific leukocyte populations and the survival of SR/CR mice against the challenges of lethal cancer cells. We hypothesized that if any of these effector mechanisms was required for the resistance to cancer cells, its functional knockout in SR/CR mice should render them sensitive to cancer challenges. This was tested by cross breeding SR/CR mice into the individual genetic knockout backgrounds of perforin (Prf-/-), superoxide (Cybb-/), or inducible nitric oxide (Nos2-/).
SR/CR mice were bred into individual Prf-/-, Cybb-/-, or Nos2-/- genetic backgrounds and then challenged with sarcoma 180 (S180). Their overall survival was compared to controls. The cancer killing efficiency of purified populations of macrophages and neutrophils from these immunodeficient mice was also examined.
When these genetically engineered mice were challenged with cancer cells, the knockout backgrounds of Prf-/-, Cybb-/-, or Nos2-/- did not completely abolish the SR/CR cancer resistant phenotype. However, the Nos2-/- background did appear to weaken the resistance. Incidentally, it was also observed that the male mice in these immunocompromised backgrounds tended to be less cancer-resistant than SR/CR controls.
Despite the previously known roles of perforin, superoxide or nitric oxide in the effector mechanisms of innate immune responses, these effector mechanisms were not required for cancer-resistance in SR/CR mice. The resistance was functional when any one of these effector mechanisms was completely absent, except some noticeably reduced penetrance, but not abolishment, of the phenotype in the male background in comparison to female background. These results also indicate that some other effector mechanism(s) of granulocytes may be involved in the killing of cancer cells in SR/CR mice.