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      Macrophage Polarization States in the Tumor Microenvironment


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          The M1/M2 macrophage paradigm plays a key role in tumor progression. M1 macrophages are historically regarded as anti-tumor, while M2-polarized macrophages, commonly deemed tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), are contributors to many pro-tumorigenic outcomes in cancer through angiogenic and lymphangiogenic regulation, immune suppression, hypoxia induction, tumor cell proliferation, and metastasis. The tumor microenvironment (TME) can influence macrophage recruitment and polarization, giving way to these pro-tumorigenic outcomes. Investigating TME-induced macrophage polarization is critical for further understanding of TAM-related pro-tumor outcomes and potential development of new therapeutic approaches. This review explores the current understanding of TME-induced macrophage polarization and the role of M2-polarized macrophages in promoting tumor progression.

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          Inflammation and cancer.

          Recent data have expanded the concept that inflammation is a critical component of tumour progression. Many cancers arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and inflammation. It is now becoming clear that the tumour microenvironment, which is largely orchestrated by inflammatory cells, is an indispensable participant in the neoplastic process, fostering proliferation, survival and migration. In addition, tumour cells have co-opted some of the signalling molecules of the innate immune system, such as selectins, chemokines and their receptors for invasion, migration and metastasis. These insights are fostering new anti-inflammatory therapeutic approaches to cancer development.
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            Origin and physiological roles of inflammation.

            Inflammation underlies a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes. Although the pathological aspects of many types of inflammation are well appreciated, their physiological functions are mostly unknown. The classic instigators of inflammation - infection and tissue injury - are at one end of a large range of adverse conditions that induce inflammation, and they trigger the recruitment of leukocytes and plasma proteins to the affected tissue site. Tissue stress or malfunction similarly induces an adaptive response, which is referred to here as para-inflammation. This response relies mainly on tissue-resident macrophages and is intermediate between the basal homeostatic state and a classic inflammatory response. Para-inflammation is probably responsible for the chronic inflammatory conditions that are associated with modern human diseases.
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              Exploring the full spectrum of macrophage activation.

              Macrophages display remarkable plasticity and can change their physiology in response to environmental cues. These changes can give rise to different populations of cells with distinct functions. In this Review we suggest a new grouping of macrophage populations based on three different homeostatic activities - host defence, wound healing and immune regulation. We propose that similarly to primary colours, these three basic macrophage populations can blend into various other 'shades' of activation. We characterize each population and provide examples of macrophages from specific disease states that have the characteristics of one or more of these populations.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                29 June 2021
                July 2021
                : 22
                : 13
                : 6995
                Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA; ab1274@ 123456wildcats.unh.edu
                Author notes
                Author information
                © 2021 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 10 May 2021
                : 25 June 2021

                Molecular biology
                tumor-associated macrophage,tumor microenvironment,metastasis,cytokine signaling,polarization,malignancy


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