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Blood. 2009 Jul 23;114(4):901-14. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-01-200931. Epub 2009 Apr 21.

A distinguishing gene signature shared by tumor-infiltrating Tie2-expressing monocytes, blood "resident" monocytes, and embryonic macrophages suggests common functions and developmental relationships.

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  • 1Angiogenesis and Tumor Targeting Research Unit, San Raffaele Institute, Olgettina 58, Milan, Italy.


We previously showed that Tie2-expressing monocytes (TEMs) have nonredundant proangiogenic activity in tumors. Here, we compared the gene expression profile of tumor-infiltrating TEMs with that of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), spleen-derived Gr1(+)Cd11b(+) neutrophils/myeloid-derived suppressor cells, circulating "inflammatory" and "resident" monocytes, and tumor-derived endothelial cells (ECs) by quantitative polymerase chain reaction-based gene arrays. TEMs sharply differed from ECs and Gr1(+)Cd11b(+) cells but were highly related to TAMs. Nevertheless, several genes were differentially expressed between TEMs and TAMs, highlighting a TEM signature consistent with enhanced proangiogenic/tissue-remodeling activity and lower proinflammatory activity. We validated these findings in models of oncogenesis and transgenic mice expressing a microRNA-regulated Tie2-GFP reporter. Remarkably, resident monocytes and TEMs on one hand, and inflammatory monocytes and TAMs on the other hand, expressed coordinated gene expression profiles, suggesting that the 2 blood monocyte subsets are committed to distinct extravascular fates in the tumor microenvironment. We further showed that a prominent proportion of embryonic/fetal macrophages, which participate in tissue morphogenesis, expressed distinguishing TEM genes. It is tempting to speculate that Tie2(+) embryonic/fetal macrophages, resident blood monocytes, and tumor-infiltrating TEMs represent distinct developmental stages of a TEM lineage committed to execute physiologic proangiogenic and tissue-remodeling programs, which can be co-opted by tumors.

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