CCR2 signaling in breast carcinoma cells promotes tumor growth and invasion by promoting CCL2 and suppressing CD154 effects on the angiogenic and immune microenvironments

Oncogene. 2020 Mar;39(11):2275-2289. doi: 10.1038/s41388-019-1141-7. Epub 2019 Dec 11.


Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women, due mainly to metastatic disease. Invasive tumors exhibit aberrations in recruitment and activity of immune cells, including decreased cytotoxic T cells. Restoring the levels and activity of cytotoxic T cells is a promising anticancer strategy; but its success is tumor type dependent. The mechanisms that coordinate recruitment and activity of immune cells and other stromal cells in breast cancer remain poorly understood. Using the MMTV-PyVmT/FVB mammary tumor model, we demonstrate a novel role for CCL2/CCR2 chemokine signaling in tumor progression by altering the microenvironment. Selective targeting of CCR2 in the PyVmT mammary epithelium inhibited tumor growth and invasion, elevated CD8+ T cells, decreased M2 macrophages and decreased angiogenesis. Co-culture models demonstrated these stromal cell responses were mediated by tumor-derived CCL2 and CCR2-mediated suppression of the T-cell activating cytokine, CD154. Coculture analysis indicated that CCR2-induced stromal reactivity was important for tumor cell proliferation and invasion. In breast tumor tissues, CD154 expression inversely correlated with CCR2 expression and correlated with relapse free survival. Targeting the CCL2/CCR2 signaling pathway may reprogram the immune angiogenic and microenvironments and enhance effectiveness of targeted and immunotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • CD40 Ligand / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • CD40 Ligand / immunology
  • Cell Growth Processes
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemokine CCL2 / immunology
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Receptors, CCR2 / immunology
  • Receptors, CCR2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Receptors, CCR2
  • CD40 Ligand