Tumor-derived exosomes induce PD1 + macrophage population in human gastric cancer that promotes disease progression

Oncogenesis. 2018 May 25;7(5):41. doi: 10.1038/s41389-018-0049-3.


Macrophages constitute a major component of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. M2 macrophages have been reported to promote tumor progression through promoting tumor angiogenesis and metastasis and regulating T-cell function. Here, we identified a protumorigenic subset of macrophages that constitutively expressed programmed cell death 1 (PD1) and accumulated in advanced-stage gastric cancer (GC). These PD1+ tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) exhibited an M2-like surface profile, with a significant increase in the expression of CD206, IL-10, and CCL1, and a clear decrease in the expression of MHC class II, CD64, and IL-12 and the ability to phagocytose ovalbumin. Moreover, PD1+ TAMs can suppress CD8+ T-cell function and this immunosuppressive activity can effectively be enhanced upon triggering PD1 signal. GC-derived exosomes effectively educated monocytes to differentiate into PD1+ TAMs with M2 phenotypic and functional characteristics. Together, our results are the first to show that GC-derived exosomes can effectively induce PD1+ TAM generation, and these cells can produce a large number of IL-10, impair CD8+ T-cell function, and thereby create conditions that promote GC progression. Thus, methods in which immunotherapy is combined with targeting PD1+ TAMs and tumor-derived exosomes should be used to restore immune function in GC patients.