Local administration of attenuated mycobacterium has been used as a cancer treatment adjuvant to re-boost patient immune responses with variable clinical outcomes. We aimed to clarify the impact of attenuated heat-killed tuberculosis (HKTB) on tumor-associated macrophages which play critical roles in shaping immunological regulation in the tumor microenvironment. Upon HKTB stimulation, both primary macrophages derived from the peripheral blood of healthy subjects and from lung cancer patients as well as THP1-derived classically activated macrophages (Ms) and tumor-educated macrophages (TEMs) were polarized into the proinflammatory phenotype, as characterized by increased expression cluster of differentiation 86. A quantitative proteomic analysis revealed that stimulated TEMs were unable to activate the toll-like receptor 2, signal transducer and activator of transcription 1, or nuclear factor-κB signaling. Instead, they showed distinct intercellular adhesion molecule 1 signaling, impaired cell adhesion, and mitochondrial dysfunction. These molecular mechanisms might contribute to lower cytotoxicity of HKTB-stimulated TEMs against A549 cells via the release of distinct inflammatory cytokines compared to HKTB-stimulated Ms. Our study provides an unbiased and systematic interpretation of cellular and molecular alterations of HKTB-reeducated macrophages which should help illuminate potential strategies of HKTB-stimulated macrophage-based combination therapy for cancer treatment.
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