Macrophage depletion using clodronate liposomes decreases tumorigenesis and alters gut microbiota in the AOM/DSS mouse model of colon cancer.Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2018 01 01; 314(1):G22-G31.AJ
We examined the role of macrophages in inflammation associated with colorectal cancer (CRC). Given the emerging evidence on immune-microbiota interactions in CRC, we also sought to examine the interaction between macrophages and gut microbiota. To induce CRC, male C57BL/6 mice (n = 32) received a single injection of azoxymethane (AOM), followed by three cycles of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-supplemented water in weeks 1, 4, and 7. Prior to the final DSS cycle (week 7) and twice weekly until euthanasia, mice (n = 16/group) received either 200 μl ip of clodronate-filled liposomes (CLD) or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) encapsulated liposomes to deplete macrophages. Colon tissue was analyzed for polyp burden, macrophage markers, transcription factors, and inflammatory mediators. Stool samples were collected, and DNA was isolated and subsequently sequenced for 16S rRNA. Clodronate liposomes decreased tumor number by ∼36% and specifically large (≥1 mm) tumors by ∼36% (P < 0.05). This was consistent with a decrease in gene expression of EMR1 in the colon tissue and polyp tissue as well as expression of select markers associated with M1 (IL-6) and M2 macrophages (IL-13, IL-10, TGFβ, CCL17) in the colon tissue (P < 0.05). Similarly, there was a decrease in STAT3 and p38 MAPK and ERK signaling in colon tissue. Clodronate liposomes increased the relative abundance of the Firmicutes phylum (P < 0.05) and specifically Lactobacillaceae and Clostridiaceae families, which have been associated with reduced CRC risk. Overall, these data support the development of therapeutic strategies to target macrophages in CRC and provide support for further evaluation of immune-microbiota interactions in CRC. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We found that macrophage depletion during late-stage tumorigenesis is effective at reducing tumor growth. This was associated with a decrease in macrophage markers and chemokines in the colon tissue and a decrease in transcription factors that are linked to colorectal cancer. The macrophage-depleted group was found to have an increased abundance of Firmicutes, a phylum with documented anti-tumorigenic effects. Overall, these data support the development of therapeutic strategies to target macrophages in colorectal cancer.