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Am J Cancer Res. 2013;3(1):21-33. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Obesity-driven inflammation and cancer risk: role of myeloid derived suppressor cells and alternately activated macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta GA USA 30322.


During carcinogenesis, tumors induce dysfunctional development of hematopoietic cells. Myeloid lineage cells, in the form of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and alternatively polarized M2 macrophages, influence almost all types of cancers by regulating diverse facets of immunosuppression, angiogenesis, cell proliferation, growth and metastasis. One-third of Americans are obese, and accumulating evidence suggests that obesity is a risk factor for various cancers. However, the relationship between these immune players and obesity are not well-described. In this review, we evaluate potential mechanisms through which different aspects of obesity, namely insulin resistance, increased estrogen, adiposity and low grade chronic inflammation from adipose tissue macrophages, may coalesce to promote MDSC induction and M2 macrophage polarization, thereby facilitating cancer development. Detailed understanding of the interplay between obesity and myeloid mediated immunosuppression may provide novel avenues for therapeutic targeting, with the goal to reduce the challenge obesity presents towards gains made in cancer outcomes.


Obesity; alternately activated macrophage; cancer; inflammation; myeloid derived suppressor cells

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