Polarization of prostate cancer-associated macrophages is induced by milk fat globule-EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8)-mediated efferocytosis

Fabiana N. Soki, Amy J. Koh, Jacqueline D. Jones, Yeo Won Kim, Jinlu Dai, Evan T. Keller, Kenneth J. Pienta, Kamran Atabai, Hernan Roca, Laurie K. McCauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Tumor cells secrete factors that modulate macrophage activation and polarization into M2 type tumor-associated macrophages, which promote tumor growth, progression, and metastasis. The mechanisms that mediate this polarization are not clear. Macrophages are phagocytic cells that participate in the clearance of apoptotic cells, a process known as efferocytosis. Milk fat globule- EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8) is a bridge protein that facilitates efferocytosis and is associated with suppression of proinflammatory responses. This study investigated the hypothesis that MFG-E8-mediated efferocytosis promotes M2 polarization. Tissue and serum exosomes from prostate cancer patients presented higher levels of MFG-E8 compared with controls, a novel finding in human prostate cancer. Coculture of macrophages with apoptotic cancer cells increased efferocytosis, elevated MFG-E8 protein expression levels, and induced macrophage polarization into an alternatively activated M2 phenotype. Administration of antibody against MFG-E8 significantly attenuated the increase in M2 polarization. Inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation using the inhibitor Stattic decreased efferocytosis and M2 macrophage polarization in vitro, with a correlating increase in SOCS3 protein expression. Moreover, MFG-E8 knockdown tumor cells cultured with wild-type or MFG-E8-deficient macrophages resulted in increased SOCS3 expression with decreased STAT3 activation. This suggests that SOCS3 and phospho-STAT3 act in an inversely dependent manner when stimulated by MFG-E8 and efferocytosis. These results uncover a unique role of efferocytosis via MFG-E8 as a mechanism for macrophage polarization into tumor-promoting M2 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24560-24572
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number35
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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