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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Macrophage immunomodulation by breast cancer-derived exosomes requires Toll-like receptor 2-mediated activation of NF-κB

  • Author(s): Chow, Amy
  • Zhou, Weiying
  • Liu, Liang
  • Fong, Miranda Y.
  • Champer, Jackson
  • Van Haute, Desiree
  • Chin, Andrew R.
  • Ren, Xiubao
  • Gugiu, Bogdan Gabriel
  • Meng, Zhipeng
  • Huang, Wendong
  • Ngo, Vu
  • Kortylewski, Marcin
  • Wang, Shizhen Emily
  • et al.

Growing evidence links tumor progression with chronic inflammatory processes and dysregulated activity of various immune cells. In this study, we demonstrate that various types of macrophages internalize microvesicles, called exosomes, secreted by breast cancer and non-cancerous cell lines. Although both types of exosomes targeted macrophages, only cancer-derived exosomes stimulated NF-κB activation in macrophages resulting in secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, TNFα, GCSF, and CCL2. In vivo mouse experiments confirmed that intravenously injected exosomes are efficiently internalized by macrophages in the lung and brain, which correlated with upregulation of inflammatory cytokines. In mice bearing xenografted human breast cancers, tumor-derived exosomes were internalized by macrophages in axillary lymph nodes thereby triggering expression of IL-6. Genetic ablation of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) or MyD88, a critical signaling adaptor in the NF-κB pathway, completely abolished the effect of tumor-derived exosomes. In contrast, inhibition of TLR4 or endosomal TLRs (TLR3/7/8/9) failed to abrogate NF-κB activation by exosomes. We further found that palmitoylated proteins present on the surface of tumor-secreted exosomes contributed to NF-κB activation. Thus, our results highlight a novel mechanism used by breast cancer cells to induce pro-inflammatory activity of distant macrophages through circulating exosomal vesicles secreted during cancer progression.

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