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Cancer Microenviron. 2013 Aug;6(2):179-91. doi: 10.1007/s12307-012-0123-x. Epub 2012 Nov 24.

Monocytes and macrophages in cancer: development and functions.

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Immune Tolerance, Tumor Immunology Program, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.


Monocytes and tumor-associated macrophages are part of the myeloid family, a group of hematopoietic derived cells. Monocytes are direct precursors of hematopoietic stem cell-derived macrophages. After their recruitment into the tumor tissue, they can differentiate into tumor-associated macrophages, a very heterogeneous cell population in terms of phenotype and pro-tumor function, supporting tumor initiation, local progression and distant metastasis. Therefore, targeting monocytes and macrophages is a promising immunotherapeutic approach. This review will focus on the development of monocytes as macrophage precursors, the functions of tumor-associated macrophages and the possibility of interfering with tumor development and progression by targeting these myeloid cells.

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