Macrophages are cells of the innate immune system involved in critical activities such as maintaining tissue homeostasis and immune surveillance. Pro-inflammatory macrophages M1 are responsible for the inflammatory response, while M2 macrophages are associated with the immunosuppressive repair phase of tissue remodeling. Most cancers are associated with chronic inflammation, and a high number of macrophages in tumors have been associated with tumor progression. Much effort has been made in elucidating the mechanisms through which macrophages contribute to tumor development, yet much less is known about the initial mechanisms by which tumors modify macrophages. Our work has focused on identifying the mechanisms by which macrophages from tumor hosts are modified by tumors. We have shown that peritoneal macrophages are significantly altered in mice bearing advanced mammary tumors and are not M1 or M2 polarized, but express a mixture of both transcriptional programs these macrophages are less differentiated and more prone to apoptosis, resulting in increased myelopoiesis as a compensation to regenerate macrophage progenitors in the marrow. Macrophages in the tumor microenvironment are also neither M1 nor M2 cells and through a display of different mechanisms are even more impaired than their peripheral counterparts. Finally, systemic blood monocytes, precursors of tissue macrophages, are also altered in tumor bearers and show a mixed program of pro- and anti-inflammatory functions. We conclude that there is evidence for local and systemic immune impairment in tumor hosts.
- Peritoneal and tumor-associated macrophages
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