Sorafenib inhibits macrophage-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition in hepatocellular carcinoma.
ABSTRACT: Tumor-associated macrophages, crucial components of the microenvironment in hepatocellular carcinoma, hamper anti-cancer immune responses. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of sorafenib on the formation of the tumor microenvironment, especially the relationship between polarized macrophages and hepatocytes. Macrophage infiltration was reduced in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who were treated with sorafenib. In vitro, sorafenib abolished polarized macrophage-induced epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration of hepatocellular carcinoma cells but not normal hepatocytes. Moreover, sorafenib attenuated HGF secretion in polarized macrophages, and decreased plasma HGF in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Additionally, sorafenib abolished the polarized macrophage-induced activation of the HGF receptor Met in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Our findings suggest that sorafenib inhibits polarized macrophage-induced EMT in hepatocellular carcinoma cells via the HGF-Met signaling pathway. These results contribute to our understanding of the immunological mechanisms that underlie the protective effects of sorafenib in hepatocellular carcinoma therapy.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sorafenib is the only approved first line systemic therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the last decade. Tumour resistance to sorafenib has been of major obstacles to improve HCC patient survival. METHODS:We polarised THP-1 cells to M1 and M2 macrophages, performed various in vitro assays and developed sorafenib-resistant xenograft models to investigate the role of tumour-associated macrophages (TAM)-secreted molecules in HCC resistance to the targeted therapy. RESULTS:We demonstrated M2, but not M1, macrophages not only promote proliferation, colony formation and migration of hepatoma cells but also significantly confer tumour resistance to sorafenib via sustaining tumour growth and metastasis by secreting hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). HGF activates HGF/c-Met, ERK1/2/MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathways in tumour cells. Tumour-associated M2 macrophages were accumulated in sorafenib-resistance tumours more than in sorafenib-sensitive tumours in vivo and produced abundant HGF. HGF chemoattracts more macrophages migrated from surrounding area, regulates the distribution of M2 macrophages and increases hepatoma resistance to sorafenib in a feed-forward manner. CONCLUSIONS:Our results provide new insights into the mechanisms of sorafenib resistance in HCC and rationale for developing new trials by combining sorafenib with a potent HGF inhibitor such as cabozantinib to improve the first line systemic therapeutic efficacy.
Project description:Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor, c-Met, are important regulators of growth and differentiation of healthy hepatocytes. However, upregulation of HGF and c-Met have been associated with tumor progression and metastasis in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hematogenous dissemination is the most common route for cancer metastasis, but the role of HGF and c-Met in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is unknown. We have isolated and established a circulating tumor cell line from the peripheral blood of a mouse HCC model. Our studies show that these CTCs have increased expression of HGF and c-Met in comparison to the primary tumor cells. The CTCs display phenotypic evidence of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the EMT appears to be inducible by HGF. Epigenetic analysis of the c-Met promoter identified significant loss of DNA methylation in CTCs which correlated with overexpression of c-Met and increased expression of HGF. Six specific CpG sites of c-Met promoter demethylation were identified. CTCs show significantly increased tumorigenicity and metastatic potential in a novel orthotopic syngeneic model of metastatic HCC. We conclude that during hematogenous dissemination in HCC, CTCs undergo EMT under the influence of increased HGF. This process also involves up regulation of c-Met via promoter demethylation at 6 CpG sites. Consequently, targeting HGF and c-Met expression by CTCs may be a novel non-invasive approach with potential clinical applications in HCC management.
Project description:M2-polarized macrophages are tumor-associated-macrophages (TAMs), which are important contents of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is a molecular biomarker of tumor aggressiveness and poor prognosis. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have important roles in the immune system and M2-polarized macrophages. However, the effects of TLR4 on M2-polarized macrophages in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are unknown. Here, TLR4 expressed on HCC cells mediates the pro-tumor effects and mechanisms of M2-polarized macrophages.THP-1 cells were induced to differentiate into M2-like macrophages through treatments with IL-4, IL-13, and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). We used the HCC cell lines SMMC-7721 and MHCC97-H cultured in conditioned medium from M2-like macrophages (M2-CM) to investigate the migration potential of HCC cells and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-associated molecular genetics. Signaling pathways that mediated M2-CM-promoted HCC migration were detected using western blotting.HCC cells cultured with M2-CM displayed a fibroblast-like morphology, an increased metastatic capability, and expression of EMT markers. TLR4 expression was markedly increased in M2-CM-treated HCC cells. TLR4 overexpression promoted HCC cell migration, and a TLR4-neutralizing antibody markedly inhibited HCC EMT in cells cultured with M2-CM. Furthermore, the TLR4/(signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling pathway contributed to the effects of M2-CM on HCC cells.Taken together, M2-polarized macrophages facilitated the migration and EMT of HCC cells via the TLR4/STAT3 signaling pathway, suggesting that TLR4 may be a novel therapeutic target. These results improve our understanding of M2-polarized macrophages.
Project description:Backgrounds and Aims: Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF)-MET signaling is known to promote biological functions such as cell survival, cell motility, and cell proliferation. However, it is unknown if HGF-MET alters the macrophage phenotype. In this study, we aimed to study the effects of HGF-MET signaling on the M1 macrophage phenotype. Methods and Materials: Bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) isolated from mice were either polarized to an M1 phenotype by IFN-? and LPS treatment or to an M2 phenotype by IL-4 treatment. Changes in M1 or M2 markers induced by HGF-MET signaling were evaluated. Mechanisms responsible for alternations in the macrophage phenotype and intracellular metabolism were analyzed. Results: c-Met was expressed especially in M1 macrophages polarized by treatment with IFN-? and LPS. In M1 macrophages, HGF-MET signaling induced the expression of Arg-1 mRNA and secretion of IL-10 and TGF-?1 and downregulated the mRNA expression of iNOS, TNF-?, and IL-6. In addition, activation of the PI3K pathway and inactivation of NF?B were also observed in M1 macrophages treated with HGF. The increased Arg-1 expression and IL-10 secretion were abrogated by PI3K inhibition, whereas, no changes were observed in TNF-? and IL-6 expression. The inactivation of NF?B was found to be independent of the PI3K pathway. HGF-MET signaling shifted the M1 macrophages to an M2-like phenotype, mainly through PI3K-mediated induction of Arg-1 expression. Finally, HGF-MET signaling also shifted the M1 macrophage intracellular metabolism toward an M2 phenotype, especially with respect to fatty acid metabolism. Conclusion: Our results suggested that HGF treatment not only promotes regeneration in epithelial cells, but also leads to tissue repair by altering M1 macrophages to an M2-like phenotype.
Project description:Advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an important cause of cancer mortality. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been shown to be an important biological process in cancer progression and metastasis. We have focused on elucidating factors that induce EMT to promote carcinogenesis and subsequent metastasis in HCC using the BNL CL.2 (BNL) and BNL 1ME A. 7R.1 (1MEA) cell lines. BNL cells are normal hepatocytes whereas the 1MEA cells are HCC cells derived from chemical transformation of the BNL cells. Their morphological characteristics were examined. Expression levels of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), markers of EMT and mediators of HGF signaling were determined and functional characteristics were compared. BNL cells were treated with HGF and effects on EMT-marker and mediators of HGF signaling were analyzed. BNL cells display characteristic epithelial morphology whereas 1MEA cells display mesenchymal characteristics. 1MEA cells express and secrete more HGF than BNL cells. There was significantly decreased expression of E-cadherin, albumin, AAT and increased expression of fibronectin, collagen-1, vimentin, snail and slug in 1MEA cells. There was also increased expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), Akt and phosphorylated Akt (pAkt) in 1MEA cells. Moreover, 1MEA cells had increased migratory capacity inhibited by inhibition of COX-2 and Akt but not extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK). Molecular mesenchymal characteristics of 1MEA cells were reversed by inhibition of COX-2, Akt and ERK. Treatment of BNL cells with HGF led to decreased expression of E-cadherin and increased expression of fibronectin, vimentin, snail, slug, COX-2, Akt, pAkt and increased migration, invasiveness and clonogenicity. We conclude that development of HCC is associated with upregulation of HGF which promotes EMT and carcinogenesis via upregulation of COX-2 and Akt. Consequently, HGF signaling may be targeted for therapy in advanced and metastatic HCC.
Project description:Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) signaling through its receptor Met has been implicated in hepatocellular carcinoma tumorigenesis and progression. Met interaction with integrins is shown to modulate the downstream signaling to Akt and ERK (extracellular-regulated kinase). In this study, we developed a mechanistically detailed systems biology model of HGF/Met signaling pathway that incorporated specific interactions with integrins to investigate the efficacy of integrin-binding peptide, AXT050, as monotherapy and in combination with other therapeutics targeting this pathway. Here we report that the modeled dynamics of the response to AXT050 revealed that receptor trafficking is sufficient to explain the effect of Met-integrin interactions on HGF signaling. Furthermore, the model predicted patient-specific synergy and antagonism of efficacy and potency for combination of AXT050 with sorafenib, cabozantinib, and rilotumumab. Overall, the model provides a valuable framework for studying the efficacy of drugs targeting receptor tyrosine kinase interaction with integrins, and identification of synergistic drug combinations for the patients.
Model is encoded by Johannes and submitted to BioModels by Ahmad Zyoud.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Limitations in HCC treatment result due to poor prognosis and resistance against traditional radiotherapy and chemotherapies. The multikinase inhibitor sorafenib is the only FDA approved drug available for advanced HCC patients, and development of second-line treatment options for patients who cannot tolerate or develop resistance to sorafenib is an urgent medical need. In this study, we established sorafenib-resistant cells from Huh7 and Mahlavu cell lines by long-term sorafenib exposure. Sorafenib-resistant HCC cells acquired spindle-shape morphology, upregulated mesenchymal markers, and showed significant increase in both migration and invasion abilities compared to their parental counterparts. Moreover, after long-term sorafenib treatment, HCC cells showed induction of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) synthesis and secretion along with increased levels of c-Met kinase and its active phosphorylated form, indicating autocrine activation of HGF/c-Met signaling. Importantly, the combined treatment of the resistant cells with c-Met kinase inhibitor SU11274 and HGF neutralizing antibody significantly reversed the increased invasion ability of the cells. The combined treatment also significantly augmented sorafenib-induced apoptosis, suggesting restoration of sorafenib sensitivity. These results describe, for the first time, compensatory upregulation of HGF synthesis leading to autocrine activation of HGF/c-Met signaling as a novel cellular strategy in the acquisition of sorafenib resistance. Therefore, we suggest that combinatorial therapeutic strategies with HGF and c-Met inhibitors comprise promising candidates for overcoming sorafenib resistance.
Project description:Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play crucial roles in enhancing cell survival, proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. We previously showed that hepatocellular carcinoma-derived CAFs (H-CAFs) promoted proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. This study aimed to further explore the role of CAFs in HCC epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the underlying mechanism. High CAF density was significantly associated with liver cirrhosis, inferior clinicopathologic characteristics, elevated EMT-associated markers, and poorer survival in human HCC. Within HCC cells, EMT was induced after co-culture with H-CAFs. Secretomic analysis showed that IL-6 and HGF were the key EMT-stimulating cytokines secreted by H-CAFs. Proteomic analysis revealed that TG2 was significantly upregulated in HCC cells with EMT phenotypes. Overexpression of TG2 promoted EMT of HCC cells, and knockdown of TG2 remarkably attenuated the H-CAF-induced EMT. Furthermore, during EMT, TG2 expression was enhanced after HCC cells were stimulated by IL-6, but not HGF. Inhibition of the IL-6/STAT3 signaling decreased TG2 expression. The principal TG2 transcription control element and a potential STAT3 binding site were identified using promoter analysis. Hence, H-CAFs facilitates HCC cells EMT mediated by IL-6, which in turn activates IL-6/IL6R/STAT3 axis to promote TG2 expression.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Hippo signalling is a recently identified major oncosuppressive pathway that plays critical roles in inhibiting hepatocyte proliferation, survival and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) formation. Hippo kinase (Mst1 and Mst2) inhibits HCC proliferation by suppressing Yap/Taz transcription activities. As human HCC is mainly driven by chronic liver inflammation, it is not clear whether Hippo signalling inhibits HCC by shaping its inflammatory microenvironment. DESIGN:We have established a genetic HCC model by deleting Mst1 and Mst2 in hepatocytes. Functions of inflammatory responses in this model were characterised by molecular, cellular and FACS analysis, immunohistochemistry and genetic deletion of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (Mcp1) or Yap. Human HCC databases and human HCC samples were analysed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS:Genetic deletion of Mst1 and Mst2 in hepatocytes (DKO) led to HCC development, highly upregulated Mcp1 expression and massive infiltration of macrophages with mixed M1 and M2 phenotypes. Macrophage ablation or deletion of Mcp1 in DKO mice markedly reduced hepatic inflammation and HCC development. Moreover, Yap removal abolished induction of Mcp1 expression and restored normal liver growth in the Mst1/Mst2 DKO mice. Finally, we showed that MCP1 is a direct transcription target of YAP in hepatocytes and identified a strong gene expression correlation between YAP targets and MCP-1 in human HCCs. CONCLUSIONS:Hippo signalling in hepatocytes maintains normal liver growth by suppressing macrophage infiltration during protumoural microenvironment formation through the inhibition of Yap-dependent Mcp1 expression, providing new targets and strategies to treat HCCs.
Project description:Galectin-1 (Gal-1) is involved in several pathological activities associated with tumor progression and chemoresistance, however, the role and molecular mechanism of Gal-1 activity in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and sorafenib resistance remain enigmatic. In the present study, forced Gal-1 expression promoted HCC progression and sorafenib resistance. Gal-1 elevated ?v?3-integrin expression, leading to AKT activation. Moreover, Gal-1 overexpression induced HCC cell EMT via PI3K/AKT cascade activation. Clinically, our data revealed that Gal-1 overexpression is correlated with poor HCC survival outcomes and sorafenib response. These data suggest that Gal-1 may be a potential therapeutic target for HCC and a biomarker for predicting response to sorafenib treatment.