High macrophage infiltration into tumours often correlates with poor prognoses; in colorectal, stomach and skin cancers, however, the opposite is observed but the mechanisms behind this phenomenon remain unclear. Here, we sought to understand how tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs) in colorectal cancer execute tumour-suppressive roles. We found that TAMs in a colorectal cancer model were pro-inflammatory and inhibited the proliferation of tumour cells. TAMs also produced chemokines that attract T cells, stimulated proliferation of allogeneic T cells and activated type-1 T cells associated with anti-tumour immune responses. Using colorectal tumour tissues, we verified that TAMs in vivo were indeed pro-inflammatory. Furthermore, the number of tumour-infiltrating T cells correlated with the number of TAMs, suggesting that TAMs could attract T cells; and indeed, type-1 T cells were present in the tumour tissues. Patient clinical data suggested that TAMs exerted tumour-suppressive effects with the help of T cells. Hence, the tumour-suppressive mechanisms of TAMs in colorectal cancer involve the inhibition of tumour cell proliferation alongside the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and promoting type-1 T-cell responses. These new findings would contribute to the development of future cancer immunotherapies based on enhancing the tumour-suppressive properties of TAMs to boost anti-tumour immune responses.
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