Cancer secreted exosomal miRNAs are emerging as mediators between tumor-stoma crosstalk. Here, we show epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC)-derived exosomes activated macrophages to a tumor-associated macrophage (TAM)-like phenotype with SOCS3/STAT3 pathway involvement, which could facilitate the progression of cancer. MiR-222-3p was enrichment in exosomes released from EOC cells and it could be transferred to macrophages. Overexpression of miR-222-3p in macrophages induced polarization of the M2 phenotype. Luciferase assay verified miR-222-3p targeted SOCS3 genes and expression of SOCS3 was decreased after transfection with a miR-222-3p mimic. Down-regulation of SOCS3 correlated with an increased expression of STAT3 activation. MiR-222-3p could be detected in the exosomes from serum and its levels were related to EOC. These observations propose tumor-derived exosomal miR-222-3p is an effective regulator in the polarization of tumor-promoting M2 macrophages and may be a biomarker of EOC.
Keywords: epithelial ovarian cancer; exosomes; macrophage; miR-222-3p; polarization.