Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) induce immunosuppression in laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC). The interaction between LSCC cells and TAMs affects the progression of laryngeal cancer through exosomes, but the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. Proteomics analysis of TAMs isolated from human laryngeal tumor tissues obtained from patients with confirmed lymphatic metastasis revealed an upregulation of annexin A3 (ANXA3). In TAMs, ANXA3 promoted macrophages to polarize to an M2-like phenotype by activating the AKT–GSK3β–β-catenin pathway. In addition, ANXA3-rich exosomes derived from TAMs inhibited ferroptosis in laryngeal cancer cells through an ATF2–CHAC1 axis, and this process was associated with lymphatic metastasis. Mechanistically, ANXA3 in exosomes inhibited the ubiquitination of ATF2, whereas ATF2 acted as a transcription factor to regulate the expression of CHAC1, thus inhibiting ferroptosis in LSCC cells. These data indicate that abnormal ANXA3 expression can drive TAM reprogramming and promote an immunosuppressive microenvironment in LSCC. Meanwhile, ANXA3-rich exosomes inhibit ferroptosis of LSCC cells and promote lymphatic metastasis, thus promoting tumor progression.

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