Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author’s final published version in Cancers, Volume 14, Issue 2, January 2022, Article number 308.

The published version is available at Copyright © Maisel et al.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) promote progression of breast cancer and other solid malignancies via immunosuppressive, pro-angiogenic and pro-metastatic effects. Tumor-promoting TAMs tend to express M2-like macrophage markers, including CD163. Histopathological assessments suggest that the density of CD163-positive TAMs within the tumor microenvironment is associated with reduced efficacy of chemotherapy and unfavorable prognosis. However, previous analyses have required research-oriented pathologists to visually enumerate CD163+ TAMs, which is both laborious and subjective and hampers clinical implementation. Objective, operator-independent image analysis methods to quantify TAM-associated information are needed. In addition, since M2-like TAMs exert local effects on cancer cells through direct juxtacrine cell-to-cell interactions, paracrine signaling, and metabolic factors, we hypothesized that spatial metrics of adjacency of M2-like TAMs to breast cancer cells will have further information value. Immunofluorescence histo-cytometry of CD163+ TAMs was performed retrospectively on tumor microarrays of 443 cases of invasive breast cancer from patients who subsequently received adjuvant chemotherapy. An objective and automated algorithm was developed to phenotype CD163+ TAMs and calculate their density within the tumor stroma and derive several spatial metrics of interaction with cancer cells. Shorter progression-free survival was associated with a high density of CD163+ TAMs, shorter median cancer-to-CD163+ nearest neighbor distance, and a high number of either directly adjacent CD163+ TAMs (within juxtacrine proximity <12 µm to cancer cells) or communicating CD163+ TAMs (within paracrine communication distance <250 µm to cancer cells) after multivariable adjustment for clinical and pathological risk factors and correction for optimistic bias due to dichotomization.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.