Chronic inflammation as a risk factor for cancer development is driven in part by monocyte/macrophages, which in many cancers exhibit pro-tumorigenic activity. In this study we identified elevation in CD14(+) CD16(+) , a minor blood monocyte subpopulation in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) patients, compared to normal and biliary disease patient specimens. Tumour association was suggested by the observation that this elevated level decreased to normal after tumour resection. Moreover, the elevated level of CD14(+) CD16(+) monocytes in CCA patient blood correlated with degree of MAC387-positive (recent blood-derived macrophage migrant-specific marker) tumour-associated macrophage infiltration as determined by immunohistochemistry. These CD14(+) CD16(+) monocytes were suggested to enhance tumour progression as this subpopulation possesses (i) high expression of adhesion molecules (CD11c, CD49d, and CD54) and scavenger receptor (CD163), which enable them to adhere strongly to endothelial cells, and (ii) that peripheral blood monocytes from CCA patients express high levels of growth and angiogenic factor-related genes (epiregulin, VEGF-A and CXCL3). Elevation of peripheral CD14(+) CD16(+) monocyte levels was associated with features associated with poor prognosis CCA parameters (non-papillary type and high number of tissue macrophages). These data indicate that the CD14(+) CD16(+) monocytes from CCA patients with pro-tumorigenic characteristics may associate with rapid tumour progression and poor patient outcome. If confirmed in subsequent studies, the level of CD14(+) CD16(+) monocytes may serve as a marker for disease activity in CCA patients and serve as a target for pathogenic macrophage specific drug development.
© 2010 British Society for Immunology.