Genetic deficiency in plasma protein HRG enhances tumor growth and metastasis by exacerbating immune escape and vessel abnormalization

Cancer Res. 2012 Apr 15;72(8):1953-63. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-2194. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG) is a 75-kDa heparin-binding plasma protein implicated in the regulation of tumor growth and vascularization. In this study, we show that hrg(-/-) mice challenged with fibrosarcoma or pancreatic carcinoma grow larger tumors with increased metastatic properties. Compared with wild-type mice, fibrosarcomas in hrg(-/-) mice were more hypoxic, necrotic, and less perfused, indicating enhanced vessel abnormalization. HRG deficiency was associated with a suppressed antitumor immune response, with both increased infiltration of M2 marker-expressing macrophages and decreased infiltration of dendritic cells and cytotoxic T cells. Analysis of transcript expression in tumor-associated as well as peritoneal macrophages from hrg(-/-) mice revealed an increased expression of genes associated with a proangiogenic and immunoinhibitory phenotype. In accordance, expression arrays conducted on HRG-treated peritoneal macrophages showed induction of genes involved in extracellular matrix biology and immune responsiveness. In conclusion, our findings show that macrophages are a direct target of HRG. HRG loss influences macrophage gene regulation, leading to excessive stimulation of tumor angiogenesis, suppression of tumor immune response, and increased tumor growth and metastatic spread.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / immunology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / immunology
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Tumor Escape / physiology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology


  • Proteins
  • histidine-rich proteins