Gold nanoparticles inhibit activation of cancer-associated fibroblasts by disrupting communication from tumor and microenvironmental cells.
ABSTRACT: Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are a major constituent of the tumor microenvironment (TME) and an important contributor to cancer progression and therapeutic resistance. Regulation of CAF activation is a promising strategy to influence cancer outcomes. Here, we report that ovarian cancer cells (OCs) and TME cells promote the activation of ovarian CAFs, whereas gold nanoparticles (GNPs) of 20 nm in diameter inhibit the activation, as demonstrated by the changes in cell morphology, migration, and molecular markers. GNPs exert the effect by altering the levels of multiple fibroblast activation or inactivation proteins, such as TGF-?1, PDGF, uPA and TSP1, secreted by OCs and TME cells. Thus, GNPs represent a potential tool to help understand multicellular communications existing in the TME as well as devise strategies to disrupt the communication.
Project description:Successful integration of nanotechnology into the current paradigm of cancer therapy requires proper understanding of the interface between nanoparticles (NPs) and cancer cells, as well as other key components within the tumor microenvironment (TME), such as normal fibroblasts (FBs) and cancer-associated FBs (CAFs). So far, much focus has been on cancer cells, but FBs and CAFs also play a critical role: FBs suppress the tumor growth while CAFs promote it. It is not yet known how NPs interact with FBs and CAFs compared to cancer cells. Hence, our goal was to elucidate the extent of NP uptake, retention, and toxicity in cancer cells, FBs, and CAFs to further understand the fate of NPs in a real tumor-like environment. The outcome of this would guide designing of NP-based delivery systems to fully exploit the TME for a better therapeutic outcome. We used gold nanoparticles as our model NP system due to their numerous applications in cancer therapy, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. A cervical cancer cell line, HeLa, and a triple-negative breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231 were chosen as cancer cell lines. For this study, a clinically feasible 0.2 nM concentration of GNPs was employed. According to our results, the cancer cells and CAFs had over 25- and 10-fold higher NP uptake per unit cell volume compared to FBs, respectively. Further, the cancer cells and CAFs had over 30% higher NP retention compared to FBs. There was no observed significant toxicity due to GNPs in all the cell lines studied. Higher uptake and retention of NPs in cancer cells and CAFs vs FBs is very important in promoting NP-based applications in cancer therapy. Our results show potential in modulating uptake and retention of GNPs among key components of TME, in an effort to develop NP-based strategies to suppress the tumor growth. An ideal NP-based platform would eradicate tumor cells, protect FBs, and deactivate CAFs. Therefore, this study lays a road map to exploit the TME for the advancement of "smart" nanomedicines that would constitute the next generation of cancer therapeutics.
Project description:Tumor immune infiltration plays a key role in the progression of solid tumors, including ovarian cancer, and immunotherapies are rapidly emerging as effective treatment modalities. However, the role of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), a predominant stromal constituent, in determining the tumor-immune microenvironment and modulating efficacy of immunotherapies remains poorly understood. We have conducted an extensive bioinformatic analysis of our and other publicly available ovarian cancer datasets (GSE137237, GSE132289 and GSE71340), to determine the correlation of fibroblast subtypes within the tumor microenvironment (TME) with the characteristics of tumor-immune infiltration. We identified (1) four functional modules of CAFs in ovarian cancer that are associated with the TME and metastasis of ovarian cancer, (2) immune-suppressive function of the collagen 1,3,5-expressing CAFs in primary ovarian cancer and omental metastases, and (3) consistent positive correlations between the functional modules of CAFs with anti-immune response genes and negative correlation with pro-immune response genes. Our study identifies a specific fibroblast subtype, fibroblast functional module (FFM)2, in the ovarian cancer tumor microenvironment that can potentially modulate a tumor-promoting immune microenvironment, which may be detrimental toward the effectiveness of ovarian cancer immunotherapies.
Project description:Objective: Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) were associated with tumor progression in the tumor microenvironment (TME). However, their immunosuppressive roles in protecting cancer cells from the attack by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are not fully clear. In this study, we investigated whether and how CAFs regulate tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes as well as their role in tumor immunosuppression. Methods: Eighty-three cases of ovarian cancer and 10 controls were analyzed for CAFs and CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes by gene array and immunohistochemistry. We evaluated presenilin 1 (PS1) expression in CAFs, CTL penetration, tumor burden, dendritic cell function, and migration of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and their function in vivo and in vitro after silencing PS1. In addition, the pathway via which PS1 affects the TME was also evaluated. Results: PS1 was highly expressed in CAFs, and its silencing significantly promoted CD8+ CTL proliferation and penetration in multiple ovarian models (p < 0.05), resulting in tumor regression and growth inhibition. Interleukin (IL)-1? was identified as a major immune inhibitor in the TME, and it was significantly decreased after PS1 silencing (p < 0.05), which was regulated by the WNT/?-catenin pathway. It was also showed that high expression of IL-1? in CAFs inhibits CTL penetration significantly (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Highly expressed PS1 in CAFs plays a crucial role in regulating tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte populations in the TME via the WNT/?-catenin pathway. Targeting PS1 may retrieve functional CTLs in the TME and improve the efficacy of current immunotherapies.
Project description:It is currently recognized that perpetual cross talk among key players in tumor microenvironment such as cancer cells (CCs), cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs), and endothelial cells (ECs) plays a critical role in tumor progression, metastasis, and therapy resistance. Disruption of the cross talk may be useful to improve the outcome of therapeutics for which limited options are available. In the current study we investigate the use of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) as a therapeutic tool to disrupt the multicellular cross talk within the TME cells with an emphasis on inhibiting angiogenesis. We demonstrate here that AuNPs disrupt signal transduction from TME cells (CCs, CAFs, and ECs) to ECs and inhibit angiogenic phenotypes in vitro. We show that conditioned media (CM) from ovarian CCs, CAFs, or ECs themselves induce tube formation and migration of ECs in vitro. Migration of ECs is also induced when ECs are cocultured with CCs, CAFs, or ECs. In contrast, CM from the cells treated with AuNPs or cocultured cells pretreated with AuNPs demonstrate diminished effects on ECs tube formation and migration. Mechanistically, AuNPs deplete ?95% VEGF165 from VEGF single-protein solution and remove up to ?45% of VEGF165 from CM, which is reflected on reduced activation of VEGF-Receptor 2 (VEGFR2) as compared to control CM. These results demonstrate that AuNPs inhibit angiogenesis via blockade of VEGF-VEGFR2 signaling from TME cells to endothelial cells.
Project description:One of the major issues in cancer radiotherapy (RT) is normal tissue toxicity. Introduction of radiosensitizers like gold nanoparticles (GNPs) into cancer cells to enhance the local RT dose has been tested successfully. However, it is not known how GNPs interact with other stromal cells such as normal fibroblasts (FBs) and cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) within the tumour microenvironment. It is known that FBs turn into CAFs to promote tumour growth. Hence, we used FBs and CAFs along with HeLa (our cancer cell line) to evaluate the differences in GNP uptake and resulting radiation induced damage to elucidate the GNP-mediated therapeutic effect in RT. The CAFs had the largest uptake of the GNPs per cell, with on average 265% relative to HeLa while FBs had only 7.55% the uptake of HeLa and 2.87% the uptake of CAFs. This translated to increases in 53BP1-related DNA damage foci in CAFs (13.5%) and HeLa (9.8%) compared to FBs (8.8%) with RT treatment. This difference in DNA damage due to selective targeting of cancer associated cells over normal cells may allow GNPs to be an effective tool in future cancer RT to battle normal tissue toxicity while improving local RT dose to the tumour.
Project description:Activated cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play a major role in the poor outcome in many diseases including pancreatic cancer. Normally quiescent with high lipid content and low proliferative capacity, CAFs receiving cues from cancer cells in the tumor microenvironment become activated and transformed into a lipid-deprived and highly proliferative myofibroblast type phenotype. Therefore, reversal of activated fibroblasts to the quiescence state is an important area of investigation that may help the therapeutic management of a number of diseases including pancreatic cancer. Here, we describe a unique biological function of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) and demonstrate that GNPs may be used to transform activated CAFs to quiescence and provide insights into the underlying molecular mechanisms. Using immortalized and primary patient derived CAFs, we demonstrate that GNPs enhanced lipid content in the cells by inducing expression of lipogenesis genes such as FASN, SREBP2, and FABP3. Using pharmacological inhibitors of lipolysis, lipophagy, and fatty acid oxidation, we further demonstrate that CAFs utilized a GNP-induced endogenously synthesized lipid to maintain the quiescent phenotype. Consequently, treatment with GNP sensitizes CAF to FASN inhibitor or FASN siRNA. Hence, GNPs may be used as a tool to probe mechanisms of quiescence in CAFs and help device strategies to target the stromal compartment exploiting the mechanisms of lipid utilization.
Project description:Midkine (MK) is a heparin-binding growth factor that promotes carcinogenesis and chemoresistance. The tumour microenvironment (TME) can affect chemotherapy sensitivity. However, the role of stromal-derived MK, especially in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), is unclear. Here, we confirmed that MK decreased cisplatin-induced cell death in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells, ovarian cancer cells and lung cancer cells. We also isolated primary CAFs (n?=?3) from OSCC patients and found that CAFs secreted increased levels of MK, which abrogated cisplatin-induced cell death. Moreover, MK increased the expression of lncRNA ANRIL in the tumour cells. Normal tissues, matched tumour-adjacent tissues and OSCC tissues were analysed (n?=?60) and showed that lncRNA ANRIL was indeed overexpressed during carcinogenesis and correlated with both high TNM stage and lymph node metastasis (LNM). Furthermore, lncRNA ANRIL knockdown in tumour cells inhibited proliferation, induced apoptosis and increased cisplatin cytotoxicity of the tumour cells via impairment of the drug transporters MRP1 and ABCC2, which could be restored by treatment with human MK in a caspase-3/BCL-2-dependent manner. In conclusion, we firstly describe that CAFs in the TME contribute to the high level of MK in tumours and that CAF-derived MK can promote cisplatin resistance via the elevated expression of lncRNA ANRIL.
Project description:We characterized tumor microenvironment (TME) components of mobile tongue (MT) cancer patients in terms of overall inflammatory infiltrate, focusing on the protumorigenic/anti-inflammatory phenotypes and on cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in order to determine their interrelations and associations with clinical outcomes. In addition, by culturing tongue carcinoma cells (HSC-3) on a three-dimensional myoma organotypic model that mimics TME, we attempted to investigate the possible existence of a molecular crosstalk between cancer cells and TME components. Analysis of 64 cases of MT cancer patients revealed that the overall density of the inflammatory infiltrate was inversely correlated to the density of CAFs (P = 0.01), but that the cumulative density of the protumorigenic/anti-inflammatory phenotypes, including regulatory T cells (Tregs, Foxp3+), tumor-associated macrophages (TAM2, CD163+), and potentially Tregs-inducing immune cells (CD80+), was directly correlated with the density of CAFs (P = 0.01). The hazard ratio (HR) for recurrence in a TME rich in CD163+ Foxp3+ CD80+ was 2.9 (95% CI 1.03-8.6, P = 0.043 compared with low in CD163+ Foxp3+ CD80+). The HR for recurrence in a TME rich in CAFs was 4.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-12.8, P = 0.012 compared with low in CAFs). In vitro studies showed cancer-derived exosomes, epithelial-mesenchymal transition process, fibroblast-to-CAF-like cell transdifferentiation, and reciprocal interrelations between different cytokines suggesting the presence of molecular crosstalk between cancer cells and TME components. Collectively, these results highlighted the emerging need of new therapies targeting this crosstalk between the cancer cells and TME components in MT cancer.
Project description:Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are believed to influence tumor behavior and clinical outcomes. We previously showed that conditioned medium (CM) from CAFs induces proliferation and motility of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms by which the CAF-secreted proteins induce ESCC development and progression. Using antibody arrays, we identified urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) as one of the main proteins whose release was increased in CAFs compared to normal fibroblasts (NFs). Immunohistochemical analysis of pathological sections showed that uPA-positive cells were localized at the boundaries of tumor and stroma tissues, in stroma between tumor nests, and within the tumors. Increased stromal uPA levels (132/146 cases) correlated with tumor invasion (p < 0.05) and overall survival of ESCC patients (p < 0.05). In vitro assays showed that uPA promotes ESCC cell proliferation, migration, and invasion via PI3K/AKT and ERK signaling pathways. In vivo, anti-uPA antibody suppressed tumor growth in ESCC xenografts. These results suggest that uPA released from stroma, and especially from CAFs, might be a predictive marker for ESCC diagnosis and prognosis, as well as an effective therapeutic target.
Project description:Wnt pathway activation maintains the cancer stem cell (CSC) phenotype and promotes tumor progression, making it an attractive target for anti-cancer therapy. Wnt signaling at the tumor and tumor microenvironment (TME) front have not been investigated in depth in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In a cohort of 48 HNSCCs, increased Wnt signaling, including Wnt genes (AXIN2, LGR6, WISP1) and stem cell factors (RET, SOX5, KIT), were associated with a more advanced clinical stage. Key Wnt pathway proteins were most abundant at the cancer epithelial-stromal boundary. To investigate these observations, we generated three pairs of cancer-cancer associated fibroblast (CAF) cell lines derived from the same HNSCC patients. 3D co-culture of cancer spheres and CAFs mimicked these in vivo interactions, and using these we observed increased expression of Wnt genes (eg, WNT3A, WNT7A, WNT16) in both compartments. Of these Wnt ligands, we found Wnt3a, and less consistently Wnt16, activated Wnt signaling in both cancer cells and CAFs. Wnt activation increased CSC characteristics like sphere formation and invasiveness, which was further regulated by the presence of CAFs. Time lapse microscopy also revealed preferential Wnt activation of cancer cells. Wnt inhibitors, OMP-18R5 and OMP-54F28, significantly reduced growth of HNSCC patient-derived xenografts and suppressed Wnt activation at the tumor epithelial-stromal boundary. Taken together, our findings suggest that Wnt signaling is initiated in cancer cells which then activate CAFs, and in turn perpetuate a paracrine signaling loop. This suggests that targeting Wnt signaling in the TME is essential.