Journal Article

Tissue-resident stem cells promote breast cancer growth and metastasis

Fabian L. Muehlberg, Yao-Hua Song, Alexander Krohn, Severin P. Pinilla, Lilly H. Droll, Xiaohong Leng, Max Seidensticker, Jens Ricke, Andrew M. Altman, Eswaran Devarajan, Weili Liu, Ralph B. Arlinghaus and Eckhard U. Alt

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 30, issue 4, pages 589-597
Published in print April 2009 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Tissue-resident stem cells promote breast cancer growth and metastasis

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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Mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow have recently been described to localize to breast carcinomas and to integrate into the tumor-associated stroma. In the present study, we investigated whether adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ASCs) could play a role in tumor growth and invasion. Compared with bone marrow-derived cells, ASCs as tissue-resident stem cells are locally adjacent to breast cancer cells and may interact with tumor cells directly. Here, we demonstrate that ASCs cause the cancer to grow significantly faster when added to a murine breast cancer 4T1 cell line. We further show that breast cancer cells enhance the secretion of stromal cell-derived factor-1 from ASCs, which then acts in a paracrine fashion on the cancer cells to enhance their motility, invasion and metastasis. The tumor-promoting effect of ASCs was abolished by knockdown of the chemokine C-X-C receptor4 in 4T1 tumor cells. We demonstrated that ASCs home to tumor site and promote tumor growth not only when co-injected locally but also when injected intravenously. Furthermore, we demonstrated that ASCs incorporate into tumor vessels and differentiate into endothelial cells. The tumor-promoting effect of tissue-resident stem cells was also tested and validated using a human breast cancer line MDA-MB-231 cells and human adipose tissue-derived stem cells. Our findings indicate that the interaction of local tissue-resident stem cells with tumor stem cells plays an important role in tumor growth and metastasis.

Journal Article.  6771 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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