Investigating Macrophage and Malignant Cell Interactions In Vitro

  • Thorsten Hagemann
  • Toby Lawrence
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 512)


Within most human and murine cancers there is an abundant macrophage population, attracted to the tumor microenvironment by cytokines and chemokines such as CSF-1 (M-CSF) and CCL2 (MCP-1) (Cell 124:263–266, 2006). Despite their intrinsic antitumor activity there is usually, but not always, a positive association between the extent of the macrophage infiltrate in tumors and a bad prognosis (Cell 124:263–266, 2006; Nat Rev Cancer 4:71–78, 2004). According to Condeelis and Pollard (Nat Rev Cancer 4:71–78, 2004), tumor-associated macrophages are obligate partners for malignant cell migration, invasion, and metastasis. These conclusions are based not only on association studies, but also on experiments demonstrating that ablation of macrophage function, or their infiltration into experimental tumors, inhibits growth and metastasis (J Exp Med 193:727–740, 2001). While it has become well appreciated that the extensive macrophage infiltrate of tumors can correlate with tumor progression, there is little understanding of the precise nature of interactions between malignant cells and macro-phages and the mechanisms by which these promote cancer.

There are several experimental approaches to study the interactions between macrophages and tumor cells in vitro, which we will describe here.

Key words

Macrophages Invasion Cancer 



This research was supported by grants from the European Union (Marie Curie Intraeuropean Fellowship) (T.H.), Medical Research Council (T.H., T.L.), Charitable Foundation of Bart's and The London (T.H., T.L.), and The Wellcome Trust (T.L.).


  1. 1.
    Condeelis, J. and Pollard, J.W. (2006) Macro-phages: obligate partners for tumor cell migration, invasion, and metastasisCell124(2), 263–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pollard, J.W. (2004) Tumor-educated macro-phages promote tumor progression and metastasisNat Rev Cancer4(1), 71–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lin, E.Y., Nguyen, A.V., Russell, R.G., and Pollard, J.W. (2001) Colony-stimulating factor 1 promotes progression of mammary tumors to malignancyJ Exp Med193(6), 727–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hagemann, T., Wilson, J., Burke, F., Kulbe, H., Li, N.F., Pluddemann, A., Charles, K., Gordon, S., and Balkwill, F.R. (2006) Ovarian cancer cells polarize macrophages toward a tumor-associated phenotypeJ Immunol176(8), 5023–32.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hagemann, T., Wilson, J., Kulbe, H., Li, N.F., Leinster, D.A., Charles, K., Klemm, F., Pukrop, T., Binder, C., and Balkwill, F.R. (2005) Macrophages induce invasiveness of epithelial cancer cells via NF-kappa B and JNKJ Immunol175(2), 1197–205.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thorsten Hagemann
    • 1
  • Toby Lawrence
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Translational Oncology, Institute of Cancer and CR-UK Clinical Cancer Centre, Barts and The London School of Medicine and DentistryQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations