High macrophage infiltration in cancer is associated with reduced survival in animal models and in patients. This reflects a shift in the macrophage response from a tumor-suppressive to tumor-supportive program governed by transcriptional events regulated by the inflammatory milieu. Although several transcription factors are known to drive a prometastatic program, those that govern an antimetastatic program are less understood. IFN regulatory factor-8 (IRF8) is integral for macrophage responses against infections. Using a genetic loss-of-function approach, we tested the hypothesis that IRF8 expression in macrophages governs their capacity to inhibit metastasis. We found that: (a) metastasis was significantly increased in mice with IRF8-deficient macrophages; (b) IRF8-deficient macrophages displayed a program enriched for genes associated with metastasis; and (c) lower IRF8 expression correlated with reduced survival in human breast and lung cancer, as well as melanoma, with high or low macrophage infiltration. Thus, a macrophagehiIRF8hi signature was more favorable than a macrophagehiIRF8lo signature. The same held true for a macrophageloIRF8hi vs. a macrophageloIRF8lo signature. These data suggest that incorporating IRF8 expression levels within a broader macrophage signature or profile strengthens prognostic merit. Overall, to our knowledge, our findings reveal a previously unrecognized role for IRF8 in macrophage biology to control metastasis or predict outcome.
Danielle Y.F. Twum, Sean H. Colligan, Nicholas C. Hoffend, Eriko Katsuta, Eduardo Cortes Gomez, Mary Lynn Hensen, Mukund Seshadri, Michael J. Nemeth, Scott I. Abrams
A macrophage signature with higher IRF8 expression compared with lower IRF8 expression is associated with increased survival in patients with breast cancer, melanoma, and lung cancer.