When B cells no longer have CD37 on their outside, they can derail, forming a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). CD37 inhibits fat absorption in healthy cells. If this protein is missing, a tumor cell absorbs much more fat and therefore grows faster. This is apparent from a publication by researchers from Radboudumc in Nature Communications.
Annemiek van Spriel, professor of Experimental Immunology at Radboudumc, has been researching tetraspanins for almost 20 years and has been unraveling their functions step by step. For this she uses models in which a specific tetraspanin is switched off. For example, a few years ago we discovered that B cells derail if they no longer possess the tetraspanin CD37.
CD37 appears to inhibit the absorption of fat in healthy cells. If CD37 is missing, a cell can therefore absorb much more fat. A cell that absorbs a lot of fat can therefore grow and divide faster than a normal cell. Due to the lack of CD37, a healthy cell therefore changes more quickly into a tumor cell.
Van Spriel also discovered that in half of the patients with DLBCL there is no CD37 on the outside of the tumor cells. That turned out to be exactly the group with less favorable prospects. These patients respond worse to current standard therapy and live shorter lives.