The Journal of biological chemistry

Malignant Pleural Effusion and ascites Induce Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition and Cancer Stem-like Cell Properties via the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)/Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase (PI3K)/Akt/Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) Pathway.

PMID 27756837


Malignant pleural effusion (PE) and ascites, common clinical manifestations in advanced cancer patients, are associated with a poor prognosis. However, the biological characteristics of malignant PE and ascites are not clarified. Here we report that malignant PE and ascites can induce a frequent epithelial-mesenchymal transition program and endow tumor cells with stem cell properties with high efficiency, which promotes tumor growth, chemoresistance, and immune evasion. We determine that this epithelial-mesenchymal transition process is mainly dependent on VEGF, one initiator of the PI3K/Akt/mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. From the clinical observation, we define a therapeutic option with VEGF antibody for malignant PE and ascites. Taken together, our findings clarify a novel biological characteristic of malignant PE and ascites in cancer progression and provide a promising and available strategy for cancer patients with recurrent/refractory malignant PE and ascites.