Tissue resident iNKT17 cells facilitate cancer cell extravasation in liver metastasis via interleukin-22


During metastasis, cancer cells invade, intravasate, enter the circulation, extravasate, and colonize target organs. Here, we examined the role of interleukin (IL)-22 in metastasis. Immune cell-derived IL-22 acts on epithelial tissues, promoting regeneration and healing upon tissue damage, but it is also associated with malignancy. Il22-deficient mice and mice treated with an IL-22 antibody were protected from colon-cancer-derived liver and lung metastasis formation, while overexpression of IL-22 promoted metastasis. Mechanistically, IL-22 acted on endothelial cells, promoting endothelial permeability and cancer cell transmigration via induction of endothelial aminopeptidase N. Multi-parameter flow cytometry and single-cell sequencing of immune cells isolated during cancer cell extravasation into the liver revealed iNKT17 cells as source of IL-22. iNKT-cell-deficient mice exhibited reduced metastases, which was reversed by injection of wild type, but not Il22-deficient, invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells. IL-22-producing iNKT cells promoting metastasis were tissue resident, as demonstrated by parabiosis. Thus, IL-22 may present a therapeutic target for prevention of metastasis.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10.01.2023
PubMed 36630911