Immune biology of glioma-associated macrophages and microglia: Functional and therapeutic implications

Jun Wei, Peiwen Chen, Pravesh Gupta, Martina Ott, Daniel Zamler, Cynthia Kassab, Krishna P. Bhat, Michael A. Curran, John F. De Groot, Amy B. Heimberger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


CNS immune defenses are marshaled and dominated by brain resident macrophages and microglia, which are the innate immune sentinels and frontline host immune barriers against various pathogenic insults. These myeloid lineage cells are the predominant immune population in gliomas and can constitute up to 30-50% of the total cellular composition. Parenchymal microglial cells and recruited monocyte-derived macrophages from the periphery exhibit disease-specific phenotypic characteristics with spatial and temporal distinctions and are heterogeneous subpopulations based on their molecular signatures. A preponderance of myeloid over lymphoid lineage cells during CNS inflammation, including gliomas, is a contrasting feature of brain immunity relative to peripheral immunity. Herein we discuss glioma-associated macrophage and microglia immune biology in the context of their identity, molecular drivers of recruitment, nomenclature and functional paradoxes, therapeutic reprogramming and polarization strategies, relevant challenges, and our perspectives on therapeutic modulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-194
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • glioma
  • immune suppression
  • macrophages
  • microglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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