Activation of innate immunity to reduce lung metastases in breast cancer

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2010 May;59(5):789-97. doi: 10.1007/s00262-009-0800-x. Epub 2009 Dec 3.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cordyceps / chemistry*
  • Cordyceps / immunology
  • Female
  • Immunity, Innate* / drug effects
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Macrophage Activation / immunology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C


  • Antineoplastic Agents