DNA damage induces GDNF secretion in the tumor microenvironment with paracrine effects promoting prostate cancer treatment resistance.

PMID 25575823


Though metastatic cancers often initially respond to genotoxic therapeutics, acquired resistance is common. In addition to cytotoxic effects on tumor cells, DNA damaging agents such as ionizing radiation and chemotherapy induce injury in benign cells of the tumor microenvironment resulting in the production of paracrine-acting factors capable of promoting tumor resistance phenotypes. In studies designed to characterize the responses of prostate and bone stromal cells to genotoxic stress, we found that transcripts encoding glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) increased several fold following exposures to cytotoxic agents including radiation, the topoisomerase inhibitor mitoxantrone and the microtubule poison docetaxel. Fibroblast GDNF exerted paracrine effects toward prostate cancer cells resulting in enhanced tumor cell proliferation and invasion, and these effects were concordant with the expression of known GDNF receptors GFRA1 and RET. Exposure to GDNF also induced tumor cell resistance to mitoxantrone and docetaxel chemotherapy. Together, these findings support an important role for tumor microenvironment damage responses in modulating treatment resistance and identify the GDNF signaling pathway as a potential target for improving responses to conventional genotoxic therapeutics.