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BMC cancer

Malignant stroma increases luminal breast cancer cell proliferation and angiogenesis through platelet-derived growth factor signaling.


PMID 25274034

Abstract

Luminal, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers represent more than 70% of cases. Despite initial good prognoses one third of Luminal cancers eventually recur locally or at distant sites and exhibit hormone resistance. Here we demonstrate that factors elaborated by malignant stromal cells can induce Luminal tumor cells proliferation and promote angiogenesis and hormone independence. We recently isolated a malignant mouse mammary gland stromal cell line named BJ3Z that increases proliferation and angiogenesis in estrogen-free xenografted Luminal MCF-7 breast cancer cells. BJ3Z and Normal mouse mammary Fibroblasts (NMFs) were expression profiled using microarray assays. Messenger RNA levels were confirmed by RT-PCR and by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Breast cancer MCF-7, BT-474, BT-20 and MDA-MB-231cell lines and stromal BJ3Z and NMFs were grown for in vitro assays: breast cancer cell lines were treated with stromal cells conditioned media, for three-dimensional (3D) mono and co-cultures in Matrigel, proliferation was measured by Bromo-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation using IHC. Tubule formation in vitro, a proxy for angiogenesis, was assessed using 3D cultured Human Umbilical cord Vascular Endothelial Cells (HUVEC). We show that under estrogen-free conditions, BJ3Z cells but not NMFs increase proliferation of co-cultured Luminal but not basal-like human breast cancer cells in 2D or as 3D Matrigel colonies. Gene expression profiling, RT-PCR analysis and IHC of colony-derived BJ3Z cells and NMFs shows that Platelet Derived Growth Factor ligands (PDGF-A and -B) are elaborated by BJ3Z cells but not NMFs; while PDGF receptors are present on NMFs but not BJ3Z cells. As a result, in colony co-culture assays, BJ3Z cells but not NMFs increase MCF-7 cell proliferation. This can be mimicked by direct addition of PDGF-BB, and blocked by the PDGF receptor inhibitor Imatinib Mesylate. Both normal and malignant stromal cells enhance angiogenesis in an in vitro model. This effect is also due to PDGF and is suppressed by Imatinib. We provide evidence that Luminal breast cancer cells can be targeted by the PDGF signaling pathway leading to estrogen-independent proliferation and angiogenesis. We speculate that stroma-directed therapies, including anti-PDGFR agents like Imatinib, may be useful in combination with other therapies for treatment of luminal cancers.