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Modulation of macrophage antitumor potential by apoptotic lymphoma cells

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Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Early online date3 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Abstract

In aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), constitutive apoptosis of a proportion of the tumor cell population can promote net tumor growth. This is associated with the accumulation of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) that clear apoptotic cells and exhibit pro-oncogenic transcriptional activation profiles characteristic of reparatory, anti-inflammatory and angiogenic programs. Here we consider further the activation status of these TAMs. We compare their transcriptomic profile with that of a range of other macrophage types from various tissues noting especially their expression of classically activated (IFN-γ and LPS) gene clusters - typically antitumor - in addition to their previously described protumor phenotype. To understand the impact of apoptotic cells on the macrophage activation state, we cocultured apoptotic lymphoma cells with classically activated macrophages (M(IFN-γ/LPS), also known as M1, macrophages). Although untreated and M(IFN-γ/LPS) macrophages were able to bind apoptotic lymphoma cells equally well, M(IFN-γ/LPS) macrophages displayed enhanced ability to phagocytose them. We found that direct exposure of M(IFN-γ/LPS) macrophages to apoptotic lymphoma cells caused switching towards a protumor activation state (often referred to as M2-like) with concomitant inhibition of antitumor activity that was a characteristic feature of M(IFN-γ/LPS) macrophages. Indeed, M(IFN-γ/LPS) macrophages exposed to apoptotic lymphoma cells displayed increased lymphoma growth-promoting activities. Antilymphoma activity by M(IFN-γ/LPS) macrophages was mediated, in part, by galectin-3, a pleiotropic glycoprotein involved in apoptotic cell clearance that is strongly expressed by lymphoma TAMs but not lymphoma cells. Intriguingly, aggressive lymphoma growth was markedly impaired in mice deficient in galectin-3, suggesting either that host galectin-3-mediated antilymphoma activity is required to sustain net tumor growth or that additional functions of galectin-3 drive key oncogenic mechanisms in NHL. These findings have important implications for anticancer therapeutic approaches aimed at polarizing macrophages towards an antitumor state and identify galectin-3 as a potentially important novel target in aggressive NHL.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 3 February 2017; doi:10.1038/cdd.2016.132.

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