CXCL16/CXCR6 axis drives microglia/macrophages phenotype in physiological conditions and plays a crucial role in glioma

Francesca Lepore, Giuseppina D'Alessandro, Fabrizio Antonangeli, Antonio Santoro, Vincenzo Esposito, Cristina Limatola, Flavia Trettel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microglia are patrolling cells that sense changes in the brain microenvironment and respond acquiring distinct phenotypes that can be either beneficial or detrimental for brain homeostasis. Anti-inflammatory microglia release soluble factors that might promote brain repair; however, in glioma, anti-inflammatory microglia dampen immune response and promote a brain microenvironment that foster tumor growth and invasion. The chemokine CXCL16 is expressed in the brain, where it is neuroprotective against brain ischemia, and it has been found to be over-expressed in glioblastoma (GBM). Considering that CXCL16 specific receptor CXCR6 is diffusely expressed in the brain including in microglia cells, we wanted to investigate the role of CXCL16 in the modulation of microglia cell activity and phenotype, and in the progression of glioma. Here we report that CXCL16 drives microglia polarization toward an anti-inflammatory phenotype, also restraining microglia polarization toward an inflammatory phenotype upon LPS and IFN? stimulation. In the context of glioma, we demonstrate that CXCL16 released by tumor cells is determinant in promoting glioma associated microglia/macrophages (GAMs) modulation toward an anti-inflammatory/pro-tumor phenotype, and that cxcr6ko mice, orthotopically implanted into the brain with GL261 glioma cells,survive longer compared to wild-type mice. We also describe that CXCL16/CXCR6 signaling acts directly on mouse glioma cells, as well as human primary GBM cells, promoting tumor cell growth, migration and invasion. All together these data suggest that CXCL16 signaling could represent a good target to modulate microglia phenotype in order to restrain inflammation or to limit glioma progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2750
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - Nov 27 2018


  • CXCL16
  • CXCR6
  • Glioma
  • Microglia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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