Research Papers:

CD47 promotes ovarian cancer progression by inhibiting macrophage phagocytosis

Ran Liu, Huiting Wei, Peng Gao, Hu Yu, Ke Wang, Zheng Fu, Baohui Ju, Meng Zhao, Shangwen Dong, Zhijun Li, Yifeng He, Yuting Huang and Zhi Yao _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:39021-39032. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16547

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Ran Liu1,*, Huiting Wei2,*, Peng Gao3, Hu Yu4, Ke Wang4, Zheng Fu2, Baohui Ju5, Meng Zhao4, Shangwen Dong6, Zhijun Li6, Yifeng He7, Yuting Huang4 and Zhi Yao2

1Tianjin Key Laboratory for Modern Drug Delivery & High-Efficiency, School of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China

2Department of Immunology, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Key Laboratory of Educational Ministry of China, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, 300071, China

3University of the District of Columbia, Washington D.C., 20008, United States

4Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, National Clinical Research Center of Cancer, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin, 300040, China

5Second Hospital of Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, 300211, China

6Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin, 300052, China

7Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Renji Hospital, Shanghai, 200127, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhi Yao, email: [email protected]

Yuting Huang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: ovarian cancer, CD47, macrophage, phagocytosis, monoclonal antibody

Received: January 20, 2017    Accepted: February 22, 2017    Published: March 24, 2017


Targeting CD47 efficiently enhances macrophage phagocytosis in both physiological and pathological conditions. Anti-CD47 antibodies have been shown to inhibit the progression of several types of cancer. However, the mechanism of anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment remains controversial. In this study, we confirmed that CD47 protein is highly expressed in ovarian cancer, and is correlated with poor clinical characteristics and prognosis. CD47 knockdown in the ovarian cancer cell line, SK-OV-3, promoted phagocytosis by macrophages in vitro and inhibited tumor growth in vivo. These data combined suggest that CD47 inhibition is a potential strategy for cancer treatment. Using an anti-CD47 mAb, we found that CD47 inhibition in both SK-OV-3 cells and primary cancer cells was able to recapitulate our knockdown results and led to an increase in the number of infiltrating macrophages. In addition, the CD133+ tumor initiating cells expressed a high level of CD47, and anti-CD47 mAb treatment was able to trigger the phagocytosis of this cell population. In conclusion, our results indicate that CD47 inhibits macrophage phagocytosis of ovarian cancer cells, and down-regulation of CD47 or inhibiting CD47 by mAb was able to reverse the negative effect. Thus, CD47 antibody therapy may be a promising strategy to treat ovarian cancer.

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