The metabolic features of tumor-associated macrophages: opportunities for immunotherapy?

Sonja S Mojsilovic, Slavko Mojsilovic, Victor H Villar, Juan F Santibanez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Besides transformed cells, the tumors are composed of various cell types that contribute to undesirable tumor progression. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are the most abundant innate immune cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Within the TME, TAMs exhibit high plasticity and undergo specific functional metabolic alterations according to the availability of tumor tissue oxygen and nutrients, thus further contributing to tumorigenesis and cancer progression. Here, we review the main functional TAM metabolic patterns influenced by TME, including glycolysis, amino acid, and fatty acid metabolism. Moreover, this review discusses antitumor immunotherapies that affect TAM functionality by inducing cell repolarizing and metabolic profiles towards an antitumoral phenotype. Also, new macrophage-based cell therapeutic technologies recently developed using chimeric antigen receptor bioengineering are exposed, which may overcome all solid tumor physical barriers impeding the current adoptive cell therapies and contribute to developing novel cancer immunotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5523055
Number of pages12
JournalAnalytical Cellular Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2021


  • Animals
  • Energy metabolism/drug effects
  • Genetic therapy/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors/adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy, adoptive/adverse effects
  • Neoplasms/genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, chimeric antigen/genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes/immunology
  • Tumor microenvironment/immunology
  • Tumor-associated macrophages/drug effects


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