Mitochondria of T Lymphocytes Promote Anti-Pulmonary Tumor Immune Response

Minsuk Kim


Background: B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), a protein involved in apoptosis, has been proven to have carcinogenic potential and is well documented. With the recent advancement in optical technology, it has become possible to observe subcellular organelles such as mitochondria in real-time without the need for staining. Consequently, we have examined the movement of mitochondria in cancer cells, correlating it with the regulation of Bcl-2.

Methods: Using a tomographic microscope, which can detect the internal structure of cells, we observed lung tumor cells. Cells were exposed to a laser beam (= 520 nm) inclined at 45 and holographic images were recorded up to a depth of 30 µm of reconstruction.

Results: Intriguingly, lung tumor cells rapidly expelled mitochondria upon the attachment of Bcl-2 or B-cell lymphoma extra-large (Bcl-xL) inhibitors. On the other hand, we observed that tumor cells hijack mitochondria from T cells. The hijacked mitochondria were not immediately linked to tumor cell death, but they played a role in assisting granzyme B-induced tumor cell death. Due to lower levels of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL on the mitochondria of T cells compared to lung tumor cells, immune cells depleted of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL were co-cultured with the tumor cells.

Conclusions: As a result, a more effective tumor cell death induced by granzyme B was observed. Additionally, further enhanced anticancer immune response was observed in vivo. Together, we show that modified mitochondria of T cells can provide potential novel strategies towards tumor cell death.

World J Oncol. 2024;15(3):472-481


Mitochondria; Tunneling nanotube; Pulmonary fibroblast tumor; Tomographic microscope; Refractive index

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