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Cancer Immunol Res. 2015 Apr;3(4):313-9. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-15-0041.

The emerging understanding of myeloid cells as partners and targets in tumor rejection.

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Department of Pathology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
Department of Pathology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California.


Myeloid cells are the most prominent among cells capable of presenting tumor-derived antigens to T cells and thereby maintaining the latter in an activated state. Myeloid populations of the tumor microenvironment prominently include monocytes and neutrophils (sometimes loosely grouped as myeloid-derived suppressor cells), macrophages, and dendritic cells. Although intratumoral myeloid populations, as a whole, have long been considered nonstimulatory or suppressive, it has only recently been appreciated that not all tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells are made equal. Because of advances in high-dimensional flow cytometry as well as more robust transcriptional profiling, we now also understand that the subsets of the tumor-myeloid compartment are far more diverse and notably even contain a rare population of stimulatory dendritic cells. As all of these myeloid populations represent major T-cell-interacting partners for incoming tumor-reactive cytotoxic T lymphocytes, understanding the distinctions in their lineage and function reveals and guides numerous therapeutic avenues targeting these antigen-presenting cells. In this Cancer Immunology at the Crossroads overview, we review the recent progress in this rapidly evolving field and advance the hypothesis that the antigen-presenting compartment within tumor microenvironments may contain significant numbers of potent allies to be leveraged for immune-based tumor clearance.

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