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Lin, Lili; Kuhn, Christina; Ditsch, Nina; Kolben, Thomas; Czogalla, Bastian; Beyer, Susanne; Trillsch, Fabian; Schmoeckel, Elisa; Mayr, Doris; Mahner, Sven; Jeschke, Udo; Hester, Anna (2021): Breast adipose tissue macrophages (BATMs) have a stronger correlation with breast cancer survival than breast tumor stroma macrophages (BTSMs). In: Breast cancer research : BCR, Vol. 23, No. 1, 45
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BACKGROUND An abundance of tumor-associated macrophages has been shown to be an independent prognostic factor for a poor prognosis of human breast cancer (BC). Adipose tissue accounts for the largest proportion of the breast and has also been identified as an independent indicator of poor survival in BC. This study aims to elucidate if the influence of adipose tissue in BC might be mediated by macrophages. The roles of macrophages in the breast tumor-stroma (breast tumor stroma macrophages, BTSM) and macrophages in the surrounding adipose tissue (breast adipose tissue macrophages, BATM) were explored separately. METHODS Two hundred ninety-eight BC tissue samples were analyzed immunohistochemically. The number of macrophages was detected by CD68+ staining. The quantity of BATMs and BTSMs was correlated to clinical and pathological parameters as well as to disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). RESULTS The amounts of BATMs and BTSMs strongly correlated with each other (r = 0.5, p = 2.98E-15). The quantity of BTSMs, but not of BATMs, was significantly associated with the BC molecular subtype (p = 0.000011), and all triple-negative BC tumors contained high amounts of BTSMs. BATMs were negatively associated with DFS (p = 0.0332). Both BATMs (p = 0.000401) and BTSMs (p = 0.021) were negatively associated with OS in the Kaplan-Meier analysis, but only BATMs remained an independent factor in the multivariate Cox-regression analysis (HR = 4.464, p = 0.004). Combining prostaglandin E2 receptor 3 (EP3)-expression and the quantity of BATMs, a subgroup with an extremely poor prognosis could be identified (median OS 2.31 years in the \textquotedblhigh BATMs/low EP3\textquotedbl subgroup compared to 11.42 years in the most favorable \textquotedbllow BATMs/high EP3\textquotedbl subgroup, p = 0.000002). CONCLUSION Our findings suggest that BTSMs and BATMs seem to be involved differently in BC. Breast adipose tissue might contribute to the aggressiveness of BC via BATMs, which were independently associated with BC survival. BATMs' role and occurrence might be functionally dependent on EP3, as a combination of both factors was strongly associated with survival. Targeting BATMs-eventually in combination with targeting the EP3-pathway-might be promising for future therapies.