A role for CCL2 in both tumor progression and immunosurveillance

Oncoimmunology. 2013 Jul 1;2(7):e25474. doi: 10.4161/onci.25474.


The chemokine CCL2, which is best known for its chemotactic functions, is expressed not only by immune cells, but also by several types of malignant and stromal cells. CCL2 has been shown to exert both pro- and anti-tumor effects. However, recent results demonstrate a main role for CCL2 in tumor progression and metastasis, suggesting that this chemokine may constitute a therapeutic target for anticancer drugs. Mammary carcinoma models, including models of implantable, transgenic, and chemically-induced tumors, were employed in the setting of Ccl2 or Ccr2 knockout mice or CCL2 neutralization with a monoclonal antibody to further investigate the role of the CCL2/CCR2 signaling axis in tumor progression and metastatic spread. In our implantable tumor models, an anti-CCL2 monoclonal antibody inhibited the growth of primary malignant lesions in a biphasic manner and reduced the number of metastases. However, in Ccl2-/- or Ccr2-/- mice developing implanted or transgenic tumors, the number of pulmonary metastases was increased despite a reduction in the growth rate of primary neoplasms. Transgenic Mtag.Ccl2-/- or Mtag.Ccr2-/- mice also exhibited a significantly earlier of disease onset. In a chemical carcinogenesis model, anti-CCL2 monoclonal antibody inhibited the growth of established lesions but was ineffective in the tumor induction phase. In contrast to previous studies indicating a role for CCL2 in the establishment of metastases, we have demonstrated that the absence of CCL2/CCR2-signaling results in increased metastatic disease. Thus, the CCL2/CCR2 signaling axis appears to play a dual role in mediating early tumor immunosurveillance and sustaining the growth and progression of established neoplasms. Our findings support the use of anti-CCL2 therapies for the treatment of established breast carcinoma, although the complete abrogation of the CCL2 signaling cascade may also limit immunosurveillance and support metastatic spread.

Keywords: CCL2; CCR2; breast cancer; chemokine; immunosurveillance; metastases; monoclonal antibody therapy; tumor progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't