Cancer Cell International (Feb 2023)
Environmental signals perceived by the brain abate pro-metastatic monocytes by dampening glucocorticoids receptor signaling
Abstract While positive social-behavioral factors predict longer survival in cancer patients, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Since tumor metastasis are the major cancer mortality factor, we investigated how an enriched environment (EE) conductive to enhanced sensory, cognitive and motor stimulation impact metastatic progression in lungs following intravasation in the circulation. We find that mice housed in EE exhibited reduced number of lung metastatic foci compared to control mice housed in a standard environment (SE). Compared to SE mice, EE mice increased lung inflammation as early as 4 days after circulating tumor cells extravasation. The impact of environmental signals on lung metastasis is independent of adrenergic receptors signaling. By contrast, we find that serum corticosterone levels are lower in EE mice and that glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist reduces the number of lung metastasis in SE mice. In addition, the difference of the number of lung metastasis between SE and EE mice is abolished when inflammatory monocytes are rendered deficient in GR signaling. This decreased GR signaling in inflammatory monocytes of SE mice results in an exacerbated inflammatory profile in the lung. Our study shows that not only EE reduces late stages of metastatic progression in lungs but disclose a novel anti-tumor mechanism whereby GR-dependent reprogramming of inflammatory monocytes can inhibit metastatic progression in lungs. Moreover, while inflammatory monocytes have been shown to promote cancer progression, they also have an anti-tumor effect, suggesting that their role is more complex than currently thought.