MedUni Vienna: Specific connective tissue cells drive development of colorectal cancer

International study involving MedUni Vienna identifies new subtype of fibroblasts

The new subtype has been characterised as part of an international collaboration with a research group from Luxembourg, opening up the prospect of a possible new therapeutic approach. Members of Helmut Dolznig's research group at MedUni Vienna's Center for Pathobiochemistry and Genetics played a key role in the research work, which was recently published in the renowned journal Nature Communications.

Specific connective tissue cells - known as fibroblasts - are an integral part of solid cancers and play a key role in tumour development and metastasis. A subtype of fibroblast found in this study, which expresses IL1 receptor 1 (IL1R1) on the cell surface, is associated with the suppression of T cells and macrophages, leading to increased cancer cell growth. Colorectal cancer patients who have an increased number of IL1R1 fibroblasts face a worse prognosis. In addition, these patients have an increase in Th17 T-cells associated with a suppressed immune response.

As the study showed, administration of the IL-1 receptor antagonist anakinra reduces tumour growth in mice and correlates with a reduction in Th17 helper T cells. Overall, this research highlights the potential therapeutic effect of anakinra in colorectal cancer with a high proportion of IL1R1 fibroblasts.

Puclikation: Nature Communications

IL1R1+ cancer-associated fibroblasts drive tumor development and immunosuppression in colorectal cancer;
E. Koncina, M. Nurmik, V. I. Pozdeev, C. Gilson, M. Tsenkova, R. Begaj, S. Stang, A. Gaigneaux, C. Weindorfer, F. Rodriguez, M. Schmoetten, E. Klein, J. Karta, V. S. Atanasova, K. Grzyb, P. Ullmann, R. Halder, M. Hengstschläger, J. Graas, V. Augendre, Y. E. Karapetyan, L. Kerger, N. Zuegel, A. Skupin, S. Haan, J. Meiser, H. Dolznig & E. Letellier
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39953-w

The sender takes full responsibility for the content of this news item. Content may include forward-looking statements which, at the time they were made, were based on expectations of future events. Readers are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements.

As a life sciences organization based in Vienna, would you like us to promote your news and events? If so, please send your contributions to news(at)