The Warburg Effect and M2 Macrophage Polarization in Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer

Ohashi T, et al. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho 2020.


Reprogramming of glucose metabolism in tumor cells is referred to as the Warburg effect. The Warburg effect is caused by tumor cells not only to adapt their metabolism to the demand for and limited supply of oxygen but also to obtain large amounts of nucleotides, amino acids and lipids for excessive proliferation of tumor cells. The Warburg effect results in increased production of lactic acid, as the final product of glycolysis, in the tumor microenvironment. Lactic acid secreted by tumor cells

functions as an immunosuppressive mediator and converts macrophages into M2 macrophages. M2 macrophages reduce inflammatory responses and adaptive Th1 immunity, and promote angiogenesis and tissue remodeling. Tumor-associated macrophages(TAMs)polarize into the M2 phenotype and suppress the host anti-cancer immune response, leading to tumor progression. We have demonstrated that tumor-secreted lactic acid is linked to the induction of M2-macrophage polarization in human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma(HNSCC). FDG, which is a glucose analog, uptake measured by positron emission tomography/computed tomography(PET/CT)indicates the Warburg effect in tumor tissue. M2-macrophage polarization is promoted in HNSCC with increased glucose uptake, maximum standardized uptake value(SUVmax), mean SUV(SUVmean). Tumor cells mediate an immunosuppressive microenvironment via inducing M2-macrophage polarization by reprogramming of glucose metabolism, called Warburg effect.