Circulating giant macrophages as a potential biomarker of solid tumors

Daniel L. Adams, Stuart S. Martin, R. Katherine Alpaugh, Monica Charpentier, Susan Tsai, Raymond C. Bergan, Irene M. Ogden, William Catalona, Saranya Chumsri, Cha Mei Tang, Massimo Cristofanilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) derived from primary tumors are believed to facilitate circulating tumor cell (CTC) seeding of distant metastases, but the mechanisms of these processes are poorly understood. Although many studies have focused on the migration of CTCs, less attention has been given to TAMs that, like CTCs, derive from tumor sites. Using precision microfilters under low-flow conditions, we isolated circulating cancer-associated macrophage-like cells (CAMLs) from the peripheral blood of patients with breast, pancreatic, or prostate cancer. CAMLs, which are not found in healthy individuals, were found to express epithelial, monocytic, and endothelial protein markers and were observed bound to CTCs in circulation. These data support the hypothesis that disseminated TAMs can be used as a biomarker of advanced disease and suggest that they have a participatory role in tumor cell migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3514-3519
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 4 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood cell biomarkers
  • Cancer biomarker
  • Cancer metastasis
  • Cancer screening
  • Liquid biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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