Autophagy suppresses isoprenaline-induced M2 macrophage polarization via the ROS/ERK and mTOR signaling pathway

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The objective of this study was to examine the effect of autophagy on stress-induced M2 macrophage polarization in the tumor microenvironment of breast cancer and to determine whether the underlying mechanism was related to the reactive oxygen species (ROS)/ERK and mTOR pathway. In vitro, we found that the basal autophagy level in mouse RAW 264.7 macrophages decreased with the incubation of tumor cell culture supernatant. Similarly, the polarization of RAW 264.7 to M2 macrophages was inhibited by the autophagy inducer rapamycin and increased by the autophagy inhibitor 3-MA or by siBeclin1. In addition, we found that not only was M2 molecule expression down-regulated but intracellular ROS generation was also blocked by autophagy induction. In vivo, we observed that mice that received an isoprenaline injection as a stress agent exhibited augmented implanted breast tumor growth, lung metastasis, intratumoral mRNA expression of M2 molecules and serum ROS generation. In contrast, the intratumoral expression of LC3-II and Beclin1 was decreased. In addition, we observed that isoprenaline induced the up-regulation of the intratumoral expression of phosphorylated mTOR, phosphorylated ERK1/2, phosphorylated Tyr705-STAT3 and HIF-1α, whereas rapamycin induced an opposite effect on the same molecules and could abolish the effects of isoprenaline. These results suggest that autophagy might suppress M2 macrophage polarization induced by isoprenaline via the ROS/ERK and mTOR signaling pathway. Our findings provide a theoretical basis for why high levels of stress hormones accelerate the progression of breast cancer, and autophagy may play a role in determining the outcomes of cancer therapy.Graphical abstractHighlightsAn interplay between stress and autophagy is investigated in macrophage polarization.Autophagy inhibits M2 polarization in the TME and then suppresses cell migration.Iso enhances TAM transformation to the M2 phenotype and cancer progression in Balb/c mice.ROS/ERK and mTOR signaling mediates the inhibition of autophagy on Iso-induced M2 polarization.

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