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Neoplasia. 2011 Jan;13(1):23-30.

Activation of urokinase plasminogen activator and its receptor axis is essential for macrophage infiltration in a prostate cancer mouse model.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Urology, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5946, USA.


Macrophages within the tumor microenvironment promote angiogenesis, extracellular matrix breakdown, and tumor cell migration, invasion, and metastasis. Activation of the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) axis promotes prostate cancer tumorigenicity, invasion, metastasis, and survival within the tumor microenvironment. The link between macrophage infiltration and the uPA/uPAR axis in prostate cancer development has not been established, although it has been reported that uPA plays a critical role inmonocyte and macrophage chemotaxis. In this study, murine prostate cancer RM-1 cells were subcutaneously inoculated into wild-type (WT), uPA(-/-), and uPAR(-/-) mice. Tumor volume was significantly diminished in both uPA(-/-) and uPAR(-/-) mice compared with WT controls. Greater inhibition of tumor volume was also observed in uPA(-/-) mice compared with uPAR(-/-) mice, suggesting the important contribution of stromal-derived uPA to sustain the tumor growth. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that tumors in uPA(-/-) and uPAR(-/-) mice displayed significantly lower proliferative indices, higher apoptotic indices, and less neovascularity compared with the tumors in WT mice. Tumors in uPA(-/-) and uPAR(-/-) mice displayed significantly less macrophage infiltration as demonstrated by F4/80 staining and MAC3(+) cell numbers by flow cytometry compared with the tumors from WT mice. These findings suggest that the uPA/uPAR axis acts in both autocrine and paracrine manners in the tumor microenvironment, and activation of uPA/uPAR axis is essential for macrophage infiltration into prostate tumors.

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