Interferon-gamma reverses the immunosuppressive and protumoral properties and prevents the generation of human tumor-associated macrophages

Int J Cancer. 2009 Jul 15;125(2):367-73. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24401.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) are M2d-polarized cells (IL-10(high), IL-12(low), ILT3(high), CD86(low)) that accumulate in tumor microenvironment. TAM inhibit antitumor T lymphocyte generation and function, contribute to tumor tolerance and are trophic for tumors. In this study, we investigated whether some immunological factors may reverse TAM immunosuppressive properties. Among 32 cytokines, we have identified IFNgamma on its ability to switch immunosuppressive TAM into immunostimulatory cells. Upon IFNgamma exposure, TAM purified from ovarian cancer ascites recover a M1 phenotype (IL-10(low), IL-12(high)), express high levels of CD86 and low levels of ILT3, enhance the proliferation of CD4(+) T lymphocytes and potentiate the cytotoxic properties of a MelanA-specific CD8(+) T cell clone. IFNgamma-treated TAM also secreted reduced levels of mediators promoting suppressive T cell accumulation (CCL18) and trophic for tumors (VEGF and MMP9). As TAM derive from the local differentiation of peripheral blood monocytes, we investigated whether IFNgamma may also affect TAM generation. In the presence of ovarian ascites, IFNgamma skewed monocyte differentiation from TAM-like cells to M1-polarized immunostimulatory macrophages. Together, these data show that IFNgamma overcomes TAM-induced immunosuppression by preventing TAM generation and functions. These data highlight that IFNgamma used locally at the tumor site could potentiate the efficacy of antitumor immunotherapies based on the generation of effector T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Separation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology*
  • Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice


  • Interferon-gamma