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.
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© 2016 Nicholas J. Brady et al.