Metastasis is the primary cause of cancer death. The inflammatory tumor microenvironment contributes to metastasis, for instance, by recruiting blood and lymph vessels. Among tumor-infiltrating immune cells, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) take a center stage in promoting both tumor angiogenesis and metastatic spread. We found that genetic deletion of the S1P receptor 1 (S1pr1) alone in CD11bhi CD206+ TAMs infiltrating mouse breast tumors prevents pulmonary metastasis and tumor lymphangiogenesis. Reduced lymphangiogenesis was also observed in the nonrelated methylcholanthrene-induced fibrosarcoma model. Transcriptome analysis of isolated TAMs from both entities revealed reduced expression of the inflammasome component Nlrp3 in S1PR1-deficient TAMs. Macrophage-dependent lymphangiogenesis in vitro was triggered upon inflammasome activation and required both S1PR1 signaling and IL-1β production. Finally, NLRP3 expression in tumor-infiltrating macrophages correlated with survival, lymph node invasion, and metastasis of mammary carcinoma patients. Conceptually, our study indicates an unappreciated role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in promoting metastasis via the lymphatics downstream of S1PR1 signaling in macrophages.
© 2017 Weichand et al.