The Significance of SPP1 in Lung Cancers and Its Impact as a Marker for Protumor Tumor-Associated Macrophages

Cancers (Basel). 2023 Apr 12;15(8):2250. doi: 10.3390/cancers15082250.


Macrophages are a representative cell type in the tumor microenvironment. Macrophages that infiltrate the cancer microenvironment are referred to as tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). TAMs exhibit protumor functions related to invasion, metastasis, and immunosuppression, and an increased density of TAMs is associated with a poor clinical course in many cancers. Phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1), also known as osteopontin, is a multifunctional secreted phosphorylated glycoprotein. Although SPP1 is produced in a variety of organs, at the cellular level, it is expressed on only a few cell types, such as osteoblasts, fibroblasts, macrophages, dendritic cells, lymphoid cells, and mononuclear cells. SPP1 is also expressed by cancer cells, and previous studies have demonstrated correlations between levels of circulating SPP1 and/or increased SPP1 expression on tumor cells and poor prognosis in many types of cancer. We recently revealed that SPP1 expression on TAMs is correlated with poor prognosis and chemoresistance in lung adenocarcinoma. In this review, we summarize the significance of TAMs in lung cancers and discuss the importance of SPP1 as a new marker for the protumor subpopulation of monocyte-derived TAMs in lung adenocarcinoma. Several studies have shown that the SPP1/CD44 axis contribute to cancer chemoresistance in solid cancers, so the SPP1/CD44 axis may represent one of the most critical mechanisms for cell-to-cell communication between cancer cells and TAMs.

Keywords: SPP1; lung cancer; macrophage; osteopontin; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (no. 20H03459).