Modulation of macrophage antitumor potential by apoptotic lymphoma cells

Jorine J.L.P. Voss, Catriona A. Ford, Sofia Petrova, Lynsey Melville, Margaret Paterson, John D. Pound, Pam Holland, Bruno Giotti, Tom C. Freeman, Christopher D. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


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- 3 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- 3/LPS), also known as M1, macrophages). Although untreated and M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages were able to bind apoptotic lymphoma cells equally well, M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages displayed enhanced ability to phagocytose them. We found that direct exposure of M (IFN- 3/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- 3/LPS) macrophages. Indeed, M (IFN- 3/LPS) macrophages exposed to apoptotic lymphoma cells displayed increased lymphoma growth-promoting activities. Antilymphoma activity by M (IFN- 3/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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-983
Number of pages13
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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