Obesity-Associated Myeloid Immunosuppressive Cells, Key Players in Cancer Risk and Response to Immunotherapy

Maria Dulfary Sanchez-Pino, Linda Anne Gilmore, Augusto C. Ochoa, Justin C. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Obesity is a risk factor for developing several cancers. The dysfunctional metabolism and chronic activation of inflammatory pathways in obesity create a milieu that supports tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. Obesity-associated metabolic, endocrine, and inflammatory mediators, besides interacting with cells leading to a malignant transformation, also modify the intrinsic metabolic and functional characteristics of immune myeloid cells. Here, the evidence supporting the hypothesis that obesity metabolically primes and promotes the expansion of myeloid cells with immunosuppressive and pro-oncogenic properties is discussed. In consequence, the accumulation of these cells, such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells and some subtypes of adipose-tissue macrophages, creates a microenvironment conducive to tumor development. In this review, the role of lipids, insulin, and leptin, which are dysregulated in obesity, is emphasized, as well as dietary nutrients in metabolic reprogramming of these myeloid cells. Moreover, emerging evidence indicating that obesity enhances immunotherapy response and hypothesized mechanisms are summarized. Priorities in deeper exploration involving the mechanisms of cross talk between metabolic disorders and myeloid cells related to cancer risk in patients with obesity are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-953
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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