Primary CNS lymphoma carries a poor prognosis. Novel therapeutic agents are urgently needed. Pomalidomide (POM) is a novel immunomodulatory drug with anti-lymphoma activity. CNS pharmacokinetic analysis was performed in rats to assess the CNS penetration of POM. Preclinical evaluation of POM was performed in two murine models to assess its therapeutic activity against CNS lymphoma. The impact of POM on the CNS lymphoma immune microenvironment was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. In vitro cell culture experiments were carried out to further investigate the impact of POM on the biology of macrophages. POM crosses the blood brain barrier with CNS penetration of ~ 39%. Preclinical evaluations showed that it had significant therapeutic activity against CNS lymphoma with significant reduction in tumor growth rate and prolongation of survival, that it had a major impact on the tumor microenvironment with an increase in macrophages and natural killer cells, and that it decreased M2-polarized tumor-associated macrophages and increased M1-polarized macrophages when macrophages were evaluated based on polarization status. In vitro studies using various macrophage models showed that POM converted the polarization status of IL4-stimulated macrophages from M2 to M1, that M2 to M1 conversion by POM in the polarization status of lymphoma-associated macrophages is dependent on the presence of NK cells, that POM induced M2 to M1 conversion in the polarization of macrophages by inactivating STAT6 signaling and activating STAT1 signaling, and that POM functionally increased the phagocytic activity of macrophages. Based on our findings, POM is a promising therapeutic agent for CNS lymphoma with excellent CNS penetration, significant preclinical therapeutic activity, and a major impact on the tumor microenvironment. It can induce significant biological changes in tumor-associated macrophages, which likely play a major role in its therapeutic activity against CNS lymphoma. POM should be further evaluated in clinical trials.
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