Macrophage arginine metabolism and the inhibition or stimulation of cancer
Journal of Immunology
The potential of the immune system to inhibit or stimulate tumor growth is a vivid example of the "two-edged sword" nature of immune responses. Our results provide evidence that this dual capacity can be attributed, in part, to the dual pathways of arginine metabolism exhibited by intratumor macrophages. Specifically, i.p. tumor rejection in P815-preimmunized mice is accompanied by an upshift in intratumor macrophage arginine metabolism to the nitric oxide (NO) synthase pathway that yields
... ay that yields citrulline and NO. A rapid and marked local increase in IFN-gamma (both mRNA and protein) in preimmunized mice during tumor rejection suggests that this cytokine plays a role in up-regulating nitric oxide production in vivo. Unlike tumor rejection, progressive i.p. P815 tumor growth in naive mice is associated with a marked decline in the production of citruline/NO by intratumor macrophages. Examination of macrophage arginine metabolism via arginase revealed a pattern opposite that of NO synthase. The local production of ornithine/urea markedly increases during progressive tumor growth whereas arginase activity decreases during tumor rejection. Inasmuch as nitric oxide inhibits tumor cell replication whereas ornithine is the precursor of polyamines required for cell replication, these results are consistent with the conclusion that the pathway macrophages use to metabolize arginine can influence the type of host immune responses against cancer and other conditions.