Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) usually display an antiinflammatory M2-like phenotype to facilitate tumor growth. However, what drives M2 polarization of TAMs and how TAMs suppress antitumor immunity within the tumor microenvironment (TME) remain largely undefined. Using several murine tumor models, we showed that hedgehog (Hh) signaling in myeloid cells is critical for TAM M2 polarization and tumor growth. We also found that tumor cells secrete sonic hedgehog (SHH), an Hh ligand, and that tumor-derived SHH drives TAM M2 polarization. Furthermore, Hh-induced functional polarization in TAMs suppresses CD8+ T cell recruitment to the TME through the inhibition of CXCL9 and CXCL10 production by TAMs. Last, we demonstrated that Krüppel-like factor 4 (Klf4) mediates Hh-dependent TAM M2 polarization and the immunosuppressive function. Collectively, these findings highlight a critical role for tumor-derived SHH in promoting TAM M2 polarization, a mechanism for TAM-mediated immunosuppression, and may provide insights into the design of new cancer immunotherapeutic strategies.
Amy J. Petty, Ang Li, Xinyi Wang, Rui Dai, Benjamin Heyman, David Hsu, Xiaopei Huang, Yiping Yang