Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 59, Issue 5, pp 789–797 | Cite as

Activation of innate immunity to reduce lung metastases in breast cancer

  • Julie L. JordanEmail author
  • A. Nowak
  • T. D. G. Lee
Original Article


Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of cancer death in women. Mortality is primarily due to the development of metastases. Although therapies exist, they lack efficacy in preventing metastatic growth. As a result, novel agents are being investigated. In particular, treatments that target the immune system are being examined as potential anti-neoplastic agents. Cordyceps sinensis (Cs) is a fungus that has been used for over 2,000 years in China as a treatment for a variety of conditions including neoplasms. The available evidence suggests that efficacy of Cs as an anti-neoplastic therapeutic agent is related to a role as an activator of innate immune responses. The objectives of this study were: to investigate the ability of Cs to activate macrophages to produce factors that will induce protective responses against tumour growth; to study the ability of Cs to reduce primary tumour growth in vivo; and to examine the ability of Cs to reduce lung metastasis growth in vivo. We found that oral Cs does not reduce primary tumour growth but can reduce lung metastasis occurrence in a surgical excision model of metastatic mammary carcinoma. The evidence we have shown to date suggests that the reduction in metastases growth may be due to the effects of macrophage-derived factors on tumour cell cycle.


Innate immunity Breast cancer Macrophages Cell cycle Metastases Cordyceps sinensis 



This work was supported by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF), Atlantic Chapter.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathology, Atlantic Centre for Transplantation ResearchDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Atlantic Centre for Transplantation ResearchDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Atlantic Centre for Transplantation ResearchDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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