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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2016, Article ID 4549676, 13 pages
Review Article

Macrophages: Regulators of the Inflammatory Microenvironment during Mammary Gland Development and Breast Cancer

1Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology Graduate Program, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
2Department of Lab Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
3Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

Received 13 November 2015; Accepted 21 December 2015

Academic Editor: Seth B. Coffelt

Copyright © 2016 Nicholas J. Brady et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Macrophages are critical mediators of inflammation and important regulators of developmental processes. As a key phagocytic cell type, macrophages evolved as part of the innate immune system to engulf and process cell debris and pathogens. Macrophages produce factors that act directly on their microenvironment and also bridge innate immune responses to the adaptive immune system. Resident macrophages are important for acting as sensors for tissue damage and maintaining tissue homeostasis. It is now well-established that macrophages are an integral component of the breast tumor microenvironment, where they contribute to tumor growth and progression, likely through many of the mechanisms that are utilized during normal wound healing responses. Because macrophages contribute to normal mammary gland development and breast cancer growth and progression, this review will discuss both resident mammary gland macrophages and tumor-associated macrophages with an emphasis on describing how macrophages interact with their surrounding environment during normal development and in the context of cancer.