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Dynamic changes in macrophage subtypes during lung cancer progression and metastasis at single-cell resolution.

BACKGROUND: Lung cancer remains a major global health challenge. Macrophages (Macs) are one important component of tumor microenvironments (TMEs); however, their prognostic relevance to lung cancer is currently unknown due to the complexity of their phenotypes.

METHODS: In the present study, reanalysis and atlas reconstruction of downloaded single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) data were used to systematically compare the component and transcriptional changes in Mac subtypes across different stages of lung cancer.

RESULTS: We found that with the progression of lung cancer, the proportion of alveolar macrophages (aMacs) gradually decreased, while the proportions of Macs and monocytes (Monos) gradually increased, suggesting a chemotaxis process followed by a Mono-Mac differentiation process. Meanwhile, through ligand-receptor (LR) screening, we identified 9 Mac-specific interactions that were enriched during the progression and metastasis of lung cancer, which could potential promote M2 polarization or the infiltration of M2 Macs. Moreover, we found that the expression of SPP1 in Macs increased with lung cancer progression, and identified 9 genes that were correlated with the expression of SPP1 in Macs, which might also contribute to the immunosuppression process in lung cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results revealed detailed changes in Macs at different stages of lung cancer progression and metastasis and provided potential therapeutic targets that could be used in future lung cancer treatments.

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