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Immunol Cell Biol. 2019 Feb 18. doi: 10.1111/imcb.12245. [Epub ahead of print]

Macrophage ERα promoted invasion of endometrial cancer cell by mTOR/KIF5B-mediated epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

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Institute of Basic Medical Sciences and Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Remodeling and Function Research, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) exert tumor-promoting effects. There have been reports that estrogen receptors (ERs) are expressed on the infiltrating macrophages of endometriosis, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. However, the role of ERs in macrophages is not well characterized. In this study, we identified that ER alpha (ERα) expression on the macrophages of human endometrial cancer was positively correlated with cancer progression. Conditioned medium from selective ERα agonist-treated M2 macrophages induced the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in endometrial cancer cells. However, this effect can be inhibited by ERα antagonist. Here, we showed that macrophages ERα-engaged abundantly produced chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 18 (CCL18), and its expression promoted the invasion of endometrial cancer cells by activating the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 pathway, whereas suppressing CCL18 abrogated these effects. Furthermore, we identified that CCL18 derived from TAMs upregulated KIF5B expression to promote EMT via activating the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway in endometrial cancer. Overall, our findings show how ERα-engaged infiltrating macrophages initiate chronic inflammation and promote the aggressive progression of endometrial cancer cells. ERα-positive TAMs act as drivers of endometrial cancer, which may become a potential therapeutic target.


CCL18; KIF5B; endometrial cancer; estrogen receptor α; macrophage


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