The American journal of pathology

Type III Collagen Directs Stromal Organization and Limits Metastasis in a Murine Model of Breast Cancer.

PMID 25795282


Breast cancer metastasis is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide. Collagen in the tumor microenvironment plays a crucial role in regulating tumor progression. We have shown that type III collagen (Col3), a component of tumor stroma, regulates myofibroblast differentiation and scar formation after cutaneous injury. During the course of these wound-healing studies, we noted that tumors developed at a higher frequency in Col3(+/-) mice compared to wild-type littermate controls. We, therefore, examined the effect of Col3 deficiency on tumor behavior, using the murine mammary carcinoma cell line 4T1. Notably, tumor volume and pulmonary metastatic burden after orthotopic injection of 4T1 cells were increased in Col3(+/-) mice compared to Col3(+/+) littermates. By using murine (4T1) and human (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cells grown in Col3-poor and Col3-enriched microenvironments in vitro, we found that several major events of the metastatic process were suppressed by Col3, including adhesion, invasion, and migration. In addition, Col3 deficiency increased proliferation and decreased apoptosis of 4T1 cells both in vitro and in primary tumors in vivo. Mechanistically, Col3 suppresses the procarcinogenic microenvironment by regulating stromal organization, including density and alignment of fibrillar collagen and myofibroblasts. We propose that Col3 plays an important role in the tumor microenvironment by suppressing metastasis-promoting characteristics of the tumor-associated stroma.