A Breakthrough: Macrophage-Directed Cancer Immunotherapy

Cancer Res. 2016 Feb 1;76(3):513-6. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-1737. Epub 2016 Jan 15.


Successful immunotherapy of cancer is becoming a reality aided by the realization that macrophages play an important role in the growth or regression of tumors. Specifically, M2/repair-type macrophages predominate in human cancers and produce growth-promoting molecules that actively stimulate tumor growth in much the same way they help wounds heal. However, modulating M2/repair-type macrophages to M1/kill-type can slow or stop cancer growth. The effects involve direct activity of M1 kill-type as well as the ability of M1-type macrophages to stimulate Th1-type cytotoxic T cells and other effector cells. Macrophage responses can also predict cancer susceptibility; individuals with a high M1/kill to M2/repair ratio are less prone. That macrophages/innate immunity can be modulated to play a central role in directly or indirectly combating cancer is a breakthrough that seems likely to finally make successful immunotherapy of cancer a reality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*