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    Macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF or CSF-1) is known to have a broad range of actions on myeloid cells maturation, including the regulation of macrophage differentiation, proliferation and survival. Macrophages generated by M-CSF stimulus have been proposed to be alternatively activated or M2 phenotype. M-CSF is commonly overexpressed by tumors and is also known to enhance tumor growth and aggressiveness via stimulating pro-tumor activities of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Currently, inhibition of CSF-1/CSF-1R interaction by therapeutic antibody to deplete TAMs and their pro-tumor functions is becoming a prevalent strategy in cancer therapy. However, its antitumor activity shows a limited single-agent effect. Therefore, macrophages in response to M-CSF interruption are pending for further investigation. To achieve this study, bone marrow derived macrophages were generated in vitro by M-CSF stimulation for 7 days and then continuously grown until day 21 in M-CSF absence. A selective pressure for cell survival was initiated after withdrawal of M-CSF. The surviving cells were more prone to M2-like phenotype, even after receiving interleukin-4 (IL-4) stimulation. The transcriptome analysis unveiled that endogenous CSF-1 level was dramatically up-regulated and numerous genes downstream to CSF-1 covering tumor necrosis factor (TNF), ras-related protein 1 (Rap1) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (AKT) signaling pathway were significantly modulated, especially for proliferation, migration and adhesion. Moreover, the phenomenal increase of miR-21-5p and genes related to pro-tumor activity were observed in parallel. In summary, withholding of CSF-1/CSF-1R interaction would rather augment than suspend the M-CSF-driven pro-tumor activities of M2 macrophages in a long run.


    Yu-Chih Chen, Yin-Siew Lai, Yan-Der Hsuuw, Ko-Tung Chang. Withholding of M-CSF Supplement Reprograms Macrophages to M2-Like via Endogenous CSF-1 Activation. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Mar 29;22(7)

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    PMID: 33805444

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