Nitric oxide favours tumour-promoting inflammation through mitochondria-dependent and -independent actions on macrophages

Daiana Drehmer, João Paulo Mesquita Luiz, Cesar Augusto Speck Hernandez, José Carlos Alves-filho, Tracy Hussell, Paul Andrew Townsend, Salvador Moncada

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Production of nitric oxide (NO) has been demonstrated in several malignancies, however its role remains not fully understood, specifically in relation to the metabolic and functional implications that it may have on immune cells participating in tumorigenesis. Here, we show that inducible NO synthase (iNOS) is expressed in cancers of the colon and the prostate, mainly by tumour cells, and NO generation is evidenced by widespread nitrotyrosine (NT) staining in tumour tissue. Furthermore, presence of NT is observed in the majority of tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs), despite low iNOS expression by these cells, suggesting that NO from the tumour microenvironment affects TAMs. Indeed, using a co-culture model, we demonstrate that NO produced by colon and prostate cancer cells is sufficient to induce NT formation in neighbouring macrophages. Moreover, exposure to exogenous NO promotes mitochondria-dependent and -independent changes in macrophages, which orientate their polarity towards an enhanced pro-inflammatory phenotype, whilst decreasing antigen-presenting function and wound healing capacity. Abrogating endogenous NO generation in murine macrophages, on the other hand, decreases their pro-inflammatory phenotype. These results suggest that the presence of NO in cancer may regulate TAM metabolism and function, favouring the persistence of inflammation, impairing healing and subverting adaptive immunity responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102350
JournalRedox biology
Early online date27 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2022

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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