The p53 tumor suppressor can restrict malignant transformation by triggering cell-autonomous programs of cell-cycle arrest or apoptosis. p53 also promotes cellular senescence, a tumor-suppressive program that involves stable cell-cycle arrest and secretion of factors that modify the tissue microenvironment. In the presence of chronic liver damage, we show that ablation of a p53-dependent senescence program in hepatic stellate cells increases liver fibrosis and cirrhosis associated with reduced survival and enhances the transformation of adjacent epithelial cells into hepatocellular carcinoma. p53-expressing senescent stellate cells release factors that skew macrophage polarization toward a tumor-inhibiting M1-state capable of attacking senescent cells in culture, whereas proliferating p53-deficient stellate cells secrete factors that stimulate polarization of macrophages into a tumor-promoting M2-state and enhance the proliferation of premalignant cells. Hence, p53 can act non-cell autonomously to suppress tumorigenesis by promoting an antitumor microenvironment, in part, through secreted factors that modulate macrophage function.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.