Alberto Mantovani talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Emerging Research Front in the field of
Article: Macrophage polarization: tumor-associated
macrophages as a paradigm for polarized M2 mononuclear
A;Sozzani, S;Locati, M;Allavena, P;Sica,
Journal: TRENDS IMMUNOL, 23 (11): 549-555 NOV 2002
Addresses: Ist Ric Farmacol Mario Negri, Via Eritrea 62,
I-20157 Milan, Italy.
Ist Ric Farmacol Mario Negri, I-20157 Milan, Italy.
Univ Milan, Inst Gen Pathol, Ctr IDET, I-20133 Milan,
Univ Brescia, Dept Biotechnol, Sect Gen Pathol &
Immunol, I-25123 Brescia, Italy.
Why do you think your paper is highly
This paper is at the intersection of two fields of research which have
become popular. On the one hand, it summarizes current understanding of the
diversity of macrophage activation in terms of polarization of cells with
different functional properties. It crystallizes the idea of macrophage
polarization into M1 and M2 cells mirroring a nomenclature used for Th1 and
On the other hand, the paper reviews tumor-associated macrophages (TAM),
cells which have become popular in the general context of the relationship
between inflammation and cancer. The view of TAM as M2 cells proposed
herein has been borne out by many subsequent studies.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
This review is a synthesis of knowledge as well as a proposal of different
views (macrophage polarization; M1 and M2; TAM as M2 cells).
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman’s terms?
Inflammation and cancer have long been known to be linked. This field has
witnessed a renaissance. Understanding how TAM helps tumors is vital to
developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
How did you become involved in this research and
were any particular problems encountered along the way?
I became involved in this research in the late 1970s when the popular view
was that macrophages kill tumor cells. We found that macrophages from
malignant tumors promoted cancer in vitro and in vivo.
Based on this finding and view, we then searched for tumor-derived
chemoattractants (now called chemokines) which recruit macrophages in
Where do you see your research leading in the
Hopefully, the work on inflammation and cancer will lead to new diagnostic
and therapeutic strategies. Translation to the bedside is in its infancy.
Alberto Mantovani, MD
University of Milan
Istituto Clinico Humanitas