Macrophage exclusion after radiation therapy (MERT): A new and effective way to increase the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy. Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Brown, J. M., Thomas, R., Nagpal, S., Recht, L. 2019; 144: 159–64


Here we review a variety of preclinical studies and a first-in-human clinical trial of newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM) patients that have investigated the significance of the influx of tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) into tumors after irradiation. We summarize the effects on the response of the tumors and normal tissues to radiation of various agents that either reduce the influx of TAMs into tumors after radiation or change their M1/M2 polarization. The studies show that following irradiation there is an accumulation of bone marrow derived TAMs in the irradiated tumors. These TAMs stimulate the resumption of blood flow in the irradiated tumors thereby promoting recurrence of the tumors. A key mechanism for this accumulation of TAMs is driven by the SDF-1/CXCR4 chemokine pathway though other pathways could also be involved for some tumors. Blocking this pathway to prevent the TAM accumulation in the tumors both enhances tumor response to radiation and protects irradiated tissues. A clinical trial in which the CXCR4 antagonist plerixafor was added to standard therapy of glioblastoma validated the preclinical findings by demonstrating i) reduced blood flow in the irradiated site, and ii) significantly improved tumor local control compared to GBM patients not treated with plerixafor. We conclude that macrophage exclusion after radiation therapy (MERT) is an effective way both to enhance the tumor response to radiation and to protect the irradiated normal tissues. Further clinical trials are warranted.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.radonc.2019.11.020

View details for PubMedID 31812931