International journal of oncology

Cancer-associated fibroblasts from invasive breast cancer have an attenuated capacity to secrete collagens.

PMID 25070059


Normal fibroblasts produce extracellular matrixxa0(ECM) components that form the structural framework of tissues. Cancer-associated fibroblastsxa0(CAFs) with an activated phenotype mainly contribute to ECM deposition and construction of cancer masses. However, the stroma of breast cancer tissues has been shown to be more complicated, and the mechanisms through which CAFs influence ECM deposition remain elusive. In this study, we found that the activated fibroblast marker α-smooth muscle actinxa0(α-SMA) was only present in the stroma of breast cancer tissue, and the CAFs isolated from invasive breast cancer sample remained to be activated and proliferative in passages. To further assess the difference between CAFs and normal breast fibroblastsxa0(NFs), MALDIxa0TOF/TOF‑MS was used to analyze the secretory proteins of primary CAFs and NFs. In total, 2,903 and 3,023 proteins were identified. Mass spectrum quantitative assay and data analysis for extracellular proteins indicated that the CAFs produce less collagens and matrix-degrading enzymes compared with NFs. This finding was confirmed by western blot analysis. Furthermore, we discovered that reduced collagen deposition was present in the stroma of invasive breast cancer. These studies showed that although CAFs from invasive breast cancer possess an activated phenotype, they secreted less collagen and induced less ECM deposition in cancer stroma. In cancer tissue, the remodeling of stromal structure and tumor microenvironment might, therefore, be attributed to the biological changes in CAFs including their protein expression profile.