Although advances in radiation therapy (RT, e.g., image-guided and intensity-modulated RT) have led to improved treatment outcomes, overcoming tumor recurrence still remains a challenge for a number of cancers where RT is an important therapeutic modality. There is an increasing appreciation of how dynamic interactions between malignant tumor cells and non-transformed host cells (e.g., immune cells, endothelial cells) determine not only cancer behavior (e.g., invasion and metastasis), but also responses to therapies, including RT. However, the precise mechanisms of molecular and cellular interactions within the tumor microenvironment (TME), and their impact on post-RT relapse remain to be elucidated. The central hypothesis in this application, formulated based on our preliminary data, is that scavenger receptor A (SRA), a pattern recognition molecule primarily expressed on myeloid cells, promotes tumor recurrence by facilitating the polarization of proangiogenic, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and tumor revascularization following RT. Our overall objective is to comprehensively understand a previously unrecognized role of SRA as an essential host factor in governing dynamic myeloid cell-tumor crosstalk and tumor response to RT. The rationale for the proposed research is that delineating fundamental mechanisms of SRA action in modulating the TME in response to RT has the potential for developing novel targeted approaches to reduce cancer recurrence in the clinic. We will test our hypothesis by pursuing 3 specific aims: 1) Establish a crucial role for SRA in potentiating the recovery of tumor vasculature after RT and subsequent recurrence using genetic, biochemical, and cellular approaches with clinically relevant model systems;2) Determine the molecular and cellular basis of SRA functions in skewing tumor-associated macrophages toward an alternatively activated, proangiogenic phenotype;and 3) Validate the concept of targeting SRA in the TME to overcome post-RT recurrence by engaging multivalent antitumor mechanisms. In view of the established immunosuppressive functions of SRA, we will also evaluate the feasibility of blocking SRA activity in the TME to improve the effectiveness of a combinatorial RT and heat shock protein-based therapy. The concept of TAM-associated SRA as a critical, tumor-extrinsic determinant of treatment outcome following RT, and the idea of preventing cancer relapse by antagonizing SRA in the TME to abrogate tumor revascularization and concurrently enhance immune functions are innovative. The proposed research is significant because it is expected to advance the understanding of distinct aspects of dynamic host-tumor interactions and their implications in improving tumor response to RT. The insights gained from these studies will facilitate rational design of multimodality therapy to reduce treatment failure after RT.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research is highly relevant to public health because identification of molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in cancer recurrence after radiation therapy is ultimately expected to lead to development of targeted strategies for therapeutic intervention. Thus, the proposed research is relevant to the part of NCI's mission that pertains to enhancing tumor response to therapies and reducing treatment failures in cancer patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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Radiation Therapeutics and Biology Study Section (RTB)
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Bernhard, Eric J
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Virginia Commonwealth University
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