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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2013 Oct;62(10):1587-97. doi: 10.1007/s00262-013-1444-4. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Empty liposomes induce antitumoral effects associated with macrophage responses distinct from those of the TLR1/2 agonist Pam3CSK 4 (BLP).

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Institute of Human Genetics, University Medical Center, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 12, 37073, Göttingen, Germany.


Liposomes are frequently used in cancer therapy to encapsulate and apply anticancer drugs. Here, we show that a systemic treatment of mice bearing skin tumors with empty phosphatidylcholine liposomes (PCL) resulted in inhibition of tumor growth, which was similar to that observed with the synthetic bacterial lipoprotein and TLR1/2 agonist Pam(3)CSK(4) (BLP). Both compounds led to a substantial decrease of macrophages in spleen and in the tumor-bearing skin. Furthermore, both treatments induced the expression of typical macrophage markers in the tumor-bearing tissue. As expected, BLP induced the expression of the M1 marker genes Cxcl10 and iNOS, whereas PCL, besides inducing iNOS, also increased the M2 marker genes Arg1 and Trem2. In vitro experiments demonstrated that neither PCL nor BLP influenced proliferation or survival of tumor cells, whereas both compounds inhibited proliferation and survival and increased the migratory capacity of bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM). However, in contrast to BLP, PCL did not activate cytokine secretion and induced a different BMDM phenotype. Together, the data suggest that similar to BLP, PCL induce an antitumor response by influencing the tumor microenvironment, in particular by functional alterations of macrophages, however, in a distinct manner from those induced by BLP.

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