Regulation of macrophage activities by tumor growth: mechanisms of immunosuppression

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Virginia Tech

Macrophages (Mφ) are a major immune cell involved in anti-tumor responses. Mφ activities such as tumor cytotoxicity. presentation of tumor-associated antigens, and stimulation of anti-tumor lymphocytes are all involved in the battle against tumor growth. However, other Mφ activities such as cell growth promotion, angiogenesis, and suppression of anti-tumor lymphocytes aid in tumor growth. This dissertation discusses how tumors control Mφ activities to create favorable environments for tumor growth. Assessment of tumor- and Mφ-derived molecules has enabled me to design models of communication between tumors, Mφ, and other immune cells. A major research focus was to determine how tumor-derived molecules induce Mφ suppressor activity and control Mφ cytotoxicity. Tumor growth induced Mφ to suppress T lymphocyte proliferation by increasing Mφ production of the suppressor molecules prostaglandin E₂ (PGE₂), nitric oxide (NO), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). A major finding was that TNF-α's normal up-regulatory action on T-cell proliferation switched to a suppressor action when Mφ were present. The autocrine action of increased TNF-α levels during tumor growth stimulated Mφ PGE₂ and NO synthesis, which suppressed T-cell proliferation.