MicroRNA-A Tumor Trojan Horse for Tumor-Associated Macrophages

Cells. 2019 Nov 21;8(12):1482. doi: 10.3390/cells8121482.


MicroRNAs (miRs) significantly contribute to the regulation of gene expression, by virtue of their ability to interact with a broad, yet specific set of target genes. MiRs are produced and released by almost every cell type and play an important role in horizontal gene regulation in the tumor microenvironment (TME). In the TME, both tumor and stroma cells cross-communicate via diverse factors including miRs, which are taking central stage as a therapeutic target of anti-tumor therapy. One of the immune escape strategies adopted by tumor cells is to release miRs as a Trojan horse to hijack circulating or tumor-localized monocytes/macrophages to tune them for pro-tumoral functions. On the other hand, macrophage-derived miRs exert anti-tumor functions. The transfer of miRs from host to recipient cells depends on the supramolecular structure and composition of miR carriers, which determine the distinct uptake mechanism by recipient cells. In this review, we provide a recent update on the miR-mediated crosstalk between tumor cells and macrophages and their mode of uptake in the TME.

Keywords: CD36; LDL; breast cancer; exosomes; inflammation; macrophage polarization; miR-375; microRNA; tumor-associated macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs