Immune Microenvironment in Glioblastoma Subtypes

Front Immunol. 2018 May 8;9:1004. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01004. eCollection 2018.


Glioblastomas (GBMs) are the most common and aggressive primary brain tumors. Due to their malignant growth and invasion into the brain parenchyma coupled with resistance to therapy, GBMs are among the deadliest of all cancers. GBMs are highly heterogeneous at both the molecular and histological levels. Hallmark histological structures include pseudopalisading necrosis and microvascular proliferation. In addition to high levels of intratumoral heterogeneity, GBMs also exhibit high levels of inter-tumoral heterogeneity. The major non-neoplastic cell population in the GBM microenvironment includes cells of the innate immune system called tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Correlative data from the literature suggest that molecularly distinct GBM subtypes exhibit differences in their microenvironment. Data from mouse models of GBM suggest that genetic driver mutations can create unique microenvironments. Here, we review the origin, features, and functions of TAMs in distinct GBM subtypes. We also discuss their interactions with other immune cell constituents and discuss prospects of therapeutically targeting TAMs to increase the efficacy of T-cell functions.

Keywords: glioblastoma; immunotherapy; macrophages; microglia; tumor microenvironment; tumor-associated macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunotherapy
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*