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Publication Date


Publication Title

PloS One


Geisel School of Medicine


Tumor-associated macrophages can account for up to 50% of the tumor mass in breast cancer patients and high TAM density is associated with poor clinical prognosis. Because TAMs enhance tumor growth, development, and metastatic potential, redirection of TAM activation may have significant therapeutic benefit. Our studies in primary human macrophages and murine breast TAMs suggest that the synthetic oleanane triterpenoid CDDO-methyl ester (CDDO-Me) reprograms the activation profile of TAMs from tumor-promoting to tumor-inhibiting. We show that CDDO-Me treatment inhibits expression of IL-10 and VEGF in stimulated human M2 macrophages and TAMs but increases expression of TNF-α and IL-6. Surface expression of CD206 and CD163, which are characteristic of M2 activation, is significantly attenuated by CDDO-Me. In contrast, CDDO-Me up-regulates surface expression of HLA-DR and CD80, which are markers of M1 activation, and importantly potentiates macrophage activation of autologous T cells but inhibits endothelial cell vascularization. These results show for the first time that CDDO-Me redirects activation of M2 macrophages and TAMs from immune-suppressive to immune-stimulatory, and implicate a role for CDDO-Me as an immunotherapeutic in the treatment of breast and potentially other types of cancer.