Membrane Cholesterol Efflux Drives Tumor-Associated Macrophage Reprogramming and Tumor Progression

Pieter Goossens, Juan Rodriguez-Vita, Anders Etzerodt, Marion Masse, Olivia Rastoin, Victoire Gouirand, Thomas Ulas, Olympia Papantonopoulou, Miranda Van Eck, Nathalie Auphan-Anezin, Magali Bebien, Christophe Verthuy, Thien Phong Vu Manh, Martin Turner, Marc Dalod, Joachim L. Schultze, Toby Lawrence*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Macrophages possess intrinsic tumoricidal activity, yet tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) rapidly adopt an alternative phenotype within the tumor microenvironment that is marked by tumor-promoting immunosuppressive and trophic functions. The mechanisms that promote such TAM polarization remain poorly understood, but once identified, they may represent important therapeutic targets to block the tumor-promoting functions of TAMs and restore their anti-tumor potential. Here, we have characterized TAMs in a mouse model of metastatic ovarian cancer. We show that ovarian cancer cells promote membrane-cholesterol efflux and depletion of lipid rafts from macrophages. Increased cholesterol efflux promoted IL-4-mediated reprogramming, including inhibition of IFNγ-induced gene expression. Genetic deletion of ABC transporters, which mediate cholesterol efflux, reverts the tumor-promoting functions of TAMs and reduces tumor progression. These studies reveal an unexpected role for membrane-cholesterol efflux in driving TAM-mediated tumor progression while pointing to a potentially novel anti-tumor therapeutic strategy. Goossens, Rodriguez-Vita et al. show that cancer cells scavenge membrane cholesterol from tumor-associated macrophages, resulting in their reprogramming toward an immune-suppressive and tumor-promoting phenotype. Targeting cholesterol efflux in macrophages counters this reprogramming and reduces tumor progression in a model of ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1376-1389.e4
Number of pages18
JournalCell Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2019


  • Hyaluronan
  • Tissue macrophages
  • Myeloid cells
  • Monocytes
  • Expression
  • Pi3k-gamma


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