Momordicine-I suppresses head and neck cancer growth by reprogrammimg immunosuppressive effect of the tumor-infiltrating macrophages and B lymphocytes.

Molecular cancer therapeutics(2024)

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Head and neck cancer (HNC) is prevalent worldwide, and treatment options are limited. Momordicine-I (M-I), a natural component from bitter melon, shows antitumor activity against these cancers, but its mechanism of action, especially in the tumor microenvironment (TME), remains unclear. In this study, we establish that M-I reduces HNC tumor growth in two different immunocompetent mouse models using MOC2 and SCC VII cells. We demonstrate that the anticancer activity results from modulating several molecules in the monocyte/macrophage clusters in CD45+ populations in MOC2 tumors by single-cell-RNA sequencing.. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) often pose a barrier to antitumor effects, but following M-I treatment, we observed a significant reduction in the expression of Sfln4, a myeloid cell differentiation factor, and Cxcl3, a neutrophil chemoattractant, in the monocyte/macrophage populations. We further find that the macrophages must be in close contact with the tumor cells to inhibit Sfln4 and Cxcl3, suggesting that these TAMs are impacted by M-I treatment. Coculturing macrophages with tumor cells shows inhibition of Agr1 expression following M-I treatment, which is indicative of switching from M2 to M1 phenotype. Furthermore, the total B-cell population in M-I-treated tumors is significantly lower, while spleen cells also show similar results when cocultured with MOC2 cells. M-I treatment also inhibits PD1, PD-L1, and FoxP3 expression in tumors. Collectively, these results uncover the potential mechanism of M-I by modulating immune cells, and this new insight can help develop M-I as a promising candidate to treat head and neck cancers, either alone or as adjuvant therapy.
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