Immunology in the clinic review series; focus on cancer: tumour-associated macrophages: undisputed stars of the inflammatory tumour microenvironment

Authors


P. Allavena, Department of Immunology and Inflammation, IRCCS Humanitas Clinical Institute, Via Manzoni 56, 20089 Rozzano, Milan, Italy. E-mail: paola.allavena@humanitasresearch.it

Summary

OTHER THEMES PUBLISHED IN THIS IMMUNOLOGY IN THE CLINIC REVIEW SERIES

Metabolic Diseases, Host Responses, Allergies, Autoinflammatory Diseases, Type 1 diabetes and viruses.

Mononuclear phagocytes are cells of the innate immunity that defend the host against harmful pathogens and heal tissues after injury. Contrary to expectations, in malignancies, tumour-associated macrophages (TAM) promote disease progression by supporting cancer cell survival, proliferation and invasion. TAM and related myeloid cells [Tie2+ monocytes and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC)] also promote tumour angiogenesis and suppress adaptive immune responses. These divergent biological activities are mediated by macrophages/myeloid cells with distinct functional polarization, which are ultimately dictated by microenvironmental cues. Clinical and experimental evidence has shown that cancer tissues with high infiltration of TAM are associated with poor patient prognosis and resistance to therapies. Targeting of macrophages in tumours is considered a promising therapeutic strategy: depletion of TAM or their ‘re-education’ as anti-tumour effectors is under clinical investigation and will hopefully contribute to the success of conventional anti-cancer treatments.

Ancillary