Basophils represent approximately 1% of human peripheral blood leukocytes. Their effector functions were initially appreciated in the 1970s when basophils were shown to express the high-affinity receptor (FcεRI) for IgE and to release proinflammatory mediators (histamine and cysteinyl leukotriene C) and immunoregulatory cytokines (i.e., IL-4 and IL-13). Basophils in the mouse were subsequently identified and immunologically characterized. There are many similarities but also several differences between human and mouse basophils. Basophil-deficient mice have enabled to examine the in vivo roles of basophils in several immune disorders and, more recently, in tumor immunity. Activated human basophils release several proangiogenic molecules such as vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), vascular endothelial growth factor-B (VEGF-B), CXCL8, angiopoietin 1 (ANGPT1), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). On the other side, basophils can exert anti-tumorigenic effects by releasing granzyme B, TNF-α, and histamine. Circulating basophils have been associated with certain human hematologic (i.e., chronic myeloid leukemia) and solid tumors. Basophils have been found in tumor microenvironment (TME) of human lung adenocarcinoma and pancreatic cancer. Basophils played a role in melanoma rejection in basophil-deficient mouse model. By contrast, basophils appear to play a pro-tumorigenic role in experimental and human pancreatic cancer. In conclusion, the roles of basophils in experimental and human cancers have been little investigated and remain largely unknown. The elucidation of the roles of basophils in tumor immunity will demand studies on increasing complexity beyond those assessing basophil density and their microlocalization in TME. There are several fundamental questions to be addressed in experimental models and clinical studies before we understand whether basophils are an ally, adversary, or even innocent bystanders in cancers.
February 13, 2020
January 23, 2020