Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression is associated with poor prognosis across a range of human cancers, including breast cancer. The contribution of tumor cell-derived COX-2 to tumorigenesis has been examined in numerous studies; however, the role of stromal-derived COX-2 is ill-defined. Here, we examined how COX-2 in myeloid cells, an immune cell subset that includes macrophages, influences mammary tumor progression. In mice engineered to selectively lack myeloid cell COX-2 [myeloid-COX-2 knockout (KO) mice], spontaneous neu oncogene-induced tumor onset was delayed, tumor burden reduced, and tumor growth slowed compared with wild-type (WT). Similarly, growth of neu-transformed mammary tumor cells as orthotopic tumors in immune competent syngeneic myeloid-COX-2 KO host mice was reduced compared with WT. By flow cytometric analysis, orthotopic myeloid-COX-2 KO tumors had lower tumor-associated macrophage (TAM) infiltration consistent with impaired colony stimulating factor-1-dependent chemotaxis by COX-2 deficient macrophages in vitro. Further, in both spontaneous and orthotopic tumors, COX-2-deficient TAM displayed lower immunosuppressive M2 markers and this was coincident with less suppression of CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) in myeloid-COX-2 KO tumors. These studies suggest that reduced tumor growth in myeloid-COX-2 KO mice resulted from disruption of M2-like TAM function, thereby enhancing T-cell survival and immune surveillance. Antibody-mediated depletion of CD8(+), but not CD4(+) cells, restored tumor growth in myeloid-COX-2 KO to WT levels, indicating that CD8(+) CTLs are dominant antitumor effectors in myeloid-COX-2 KO mice. Our studies suggest that inhibition of myeloid cell COX-2 can potentiate CTL-mediated tumor cytotoxicity and may provide a novel therapeutic approach in breast cancer therapy.
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