To Enhance or Suppress? The Double-edged Sword of Superantigen in Tumor Immunotherapy

Release Time:2021-10-09 Big Small

Tumor immunotherapy, one of the most promising research field in cancer therapy, is the prevention and treatment of tumor by activating or suppressing the immune system.  

As a class of antigens that can efficiently activate T-cells and lead to adaptive immune responses, superantigens are considered as ideal candidate drugs for tumor immunotherapy. However, excessive activation of T-cells may induce regulatory T-cells (also called Tregs), which can partially or completely suppress the immune response. For the development of the novel anti-tumor agents, it is necessary to investigate under what conditions superantigens can induce the emergence of regulatory T-cells, and to reveal the underlying molecular mechanisms.  

The Microbial Resources & Ecology Research Group of the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, has long been committed to the research of superantigen theory and the development of novel anti-tumor drugs. Recently, the researchers led by Prof. XU Mingkai found that a type of superantigen, SEC2, could induce the emergence of regulatory T-cells via certain signalling pathways.  

The results indicated that the superantigen SEC2 can induce immune enhancement or suppression, depending on the concentration and frequency of SEC2 exposed to the host immune system. These findings help the understanding of immunologic balance mediated by superantigens. This study provides theoretical guidance for the clinical application of superantigens in tumor immunotherapy. 

The study entitled "Induction of CD4+ regulatory T cells by stimulation with Staphylococcal Enterotoxin C2 through different signaling pathways" has been published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 

This study was funded by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Liaoning Revitalization Talents Program, and the Young and Middle-aged S&T Innovative Talents Program of Shenyang Science and Technology Bureau.  


YUE Qian 

Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences 

Tel: 86-24-83970324