Emerging role of tumor-associated macrophages as therapeutic targets in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2013 Dec;62(12):1757-68. doi: 10.1007/s00262-013-1487-6. Epub 2013 Oct 17.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) derived from peripheral blood monocytes recruited into the renal cell carcinoma (RCC) microenvironment. In response to inflammatory stimuli, macrophages undergo M1 (classical) or M2 (alternative) activation. M1 cells produce high levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin (IL)-12, IL-23 and IL-6, while M2 cells produce anti-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-10, thus contributing to RCC-related immune dysfunction. The presence of extensive TAM infiltration in RCC microenvironment contributes to cancer progression and metastasis by stimulating angiogenesis, tumor growth, and cellular migration and invasion. Moreover, TAMs are involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition of RCC cancer cells and in the development of tumor resistance to targeted agents. Interestingly, macrophage autophagy seems to play an important role in RCC. Based on this scenario, TAMs represent a promising and effective target for cancer therapy in RCC. Several strategies have been proposed to suppress TAM recruitment, to deplete their number, to switch M2 TAMs into antitumor M1 phenotype and to inhibit TAM-associated molecules. In this review, we summarize current data on the essential role of TAMs in RCC angiogenesis, invasion, impaired anti-tumor immune response and development of drug resistance, thus describing the emerging TAM-centered therapies for RCC patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / therapy
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment*