23 September 2020

Katrin Rabold, theme Infectious diseases and global health, Gosse J. Adema, theme Cancer development and immune defence, Romana T Netea-Maier, theme Rare cancers and colleagues published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer that improved lipid biosynthesis in human tumor-induced macrophages contributes to their protumoral characteristics.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are key components of the tumor microenvironment (TME) in non-medullary thyroid carcinoma (TC) and neuroblastoma (NB), being associated with a poor prognosis for patients. However, little is known about how tumors steer the specific metabolic phenotype and function of TAMs. 


In a human coculture model, transcriptome, metabolome and lipidome analysis were performed on TC-induced and NB-induced macrophages. The metabolic shift was correlated to functional readouts, such as cytokine production and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, including pharmacological inhibition of metabolic pathways.


Based on transcriptome and metabolome analysis, we observed a strong upregulation of lipid biosynthesis pathways in TAMs. Subsequently, lipidome analysis revealed that tumor-induced macrophages have an increased total lipid content and enriched levels of intracellular lipids, especially phosphoglycerides and sphingomyelins. Strikingly, this metabolic shift in lipid synthesis contributes to their protumoral functional characteristics: blocking key enzymes of lipid biosynthesis in the tumor-induced macrophages reversed the increased inflammatory cytokines and the capacity to produce ROS, two well-known protumoral factors in the TME. 


Taken together, our data show that tumor cells can stimulate lipid biosynthesis in macrophages to induce protumoral cytokine and ROS responses and advocate lipid biosynthesis as a potential therapeutic target to reprogram the TME. 

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