The monocyte, a maestro in the tumor microenvironment (TME) of breast cancer


  • H.T. Amer
  • U. Stein
  • H.M. El Tayebi


  • Cancers


  • Cancers 14 (21): 5460


  • Breast cancer (BC) is well-known for being a leading cause of death worldwide. It is classified molecularly into luminal A, luminal B HER2-, luminal B HER2+, HER2+, and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). These subtypes differ in their prognosis; thus, understanding the tumor microenvironment (TME) makes new treatment strategies possible. The TME contains populations that exhibit anti-tumorigenic actions such as tumor-associated eosinophils. Moreover, it contains pro-tumorigenic populations such as tumor-associated neutrophils (TANs), or monocyte-derived populations. The monocyte-derived populations are tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) and MDSCs. Thus, a monocyte can be considered a maestro within the TME. Moreover, the expansion of monocytes in the TME depends on many factors such as the BC stage, the presence of macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), and the presence of some chemoattractants. After expansion, monocytes can differentiate into pro-inflammatory populations such as M1 macrophages or anti-inflammatory populations such as M2 macrophages according to the nature of cytokines present in the TME. Differentiation to TAMs depends on various factors such as the BC subtype, the presence of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and epigenetic factors. Furthermore, TAMs and MDSCs not only have a role in tumor progression but also are key players in metastasis. Thus, understanding the monocytes further can introduce new target therapies.