Spontaneous regression of advanced cancer: identification of a unique genetically determined, age-dependent trait in mice.
We have established and studied a colony of mice with a unique trait of host resistance to both ascites and solid cancers induced by transplantable cells. One dramatic manifestation of this trait is age-dependent spontaneous regression of advanced cancers. This powerful resistance segregates as a single-locus dominant trait, is independent of tumor burden, and is effective against cell lines from multiple types of cancer. During spontaneous regression or immediately after exposure, cancer cells provoke a massive infiltration of host leukocytes, which form aggregates and rosettes with tumor cells. The cytolytic destruction of cancer cells by innate leukocytes is rapid and specific without apparent damage to normal cells. The mice are healthy and cancer-free and have a normal life span. These observations suggest a previously unrecognized mechanism of immune surveillance, which may have potential for therapy or prevention of cancer.