The Role of Stellate Cells in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma: Targeting Perspectives.
ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a gastrointestinal malignancy with a dismal clinical outcome. Accumulating evidence suggests that activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), the major producers of extracellular matrix (ECM), drive the severe stromal/desmoplastic reaction in PDAC. Furthermore, the crosstalk among PSCs, pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs) as well as other stroma cells can establish a growth-supportive tumor microenvironment (TME) of PDAC, thereby enhancing tumor growth, metastasis, and chemoresistance via various pathways. Recently, targeting stroma has emerged as a promising strategy for PDAC therapy, and several novel strategies have been proposed. The aim of our study is to give a profound review of the role of PSCs in PDAC progression and recent advances in stroma-targeting strategies.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by an abundant desmoplastic reaction driven by pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) that contributes to tumor progression. Here we sought to characterize the interactions between pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs) and PSCs that affect the inflammatory and immune response in pancreatic tumors. Conditioned media from mono- and cocultures of PSCs and PCCs were assayed for expression of cytokines and growth factors. IP-10/CXCL10 was the most highly induced chemokine in coculture of PSCs and PCCs. Its expression was induced in the PSCs by PCCs. IP-10 was elevated in human PDAC specimens, and positively correlated with high stroma content. Furthermore, gene expression of IP-10 and its receptor CXCR3 were significantly associated with the intratumoral presence of regulatory T cells (Tregs). In an independent cohort of 48 patients with resectable pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, high IP-10 expression levels correlated with decreased median overall survival. Finally, IP-10 stimulated the ex vivo recruitment of CXCR3+ effector T cells as well as CXCR3+ Tregs derived from patients with PDAC. Our findings suggest that, in pancreatic cancer, CXCR3+ Tregs can be recruited by IP-10 expressed by PSCs in the tumor stroma, leading to immunosuppressive and tumor-promoting effects.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by a strong desmoplastic reaction where the stromal compartment often accounts for more than half of the tumor volume. Pancreatic stellate cells (PSC) are a central mediator of desmoplasia. There is increasing evidence that desmoplasia is contributing to the poor therapeutic response of PDAC. We show that PSCs promote radioprotection and stimulate proliferation in pancreatic cancer cells (PCC) in direct coculture. Our in vivo studies show PSC-dependent radioprotection in response to a single dose and to fractionated radiation. Abrogating ?1-integrin signaling abolishes the PSC-mediated radioprotection in PCCs. Furthermore, this effect is independent of PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) but dependent on FAK. Taken together, we show for the first time that PSCs promote radioprotection of PCCs in a ?1-integrin-dependent manner.
Project description:Activation of pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) initiates pancreatic fibrosis in chronic pancreatitis and furnishes a niche that enhances the malignancy of pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Resveratrol (RSV), a natural polyphenol, exhibits potent antioxidant and anticancer effects. However, whether and how RSV influences the biological properties of activated PSCs and the effects of these changes on tumor remain unknown. In the present study, we found that RSV impeded hydrogen peroxide-driven reactive oxygen species- (ROS-) induced activation, invasion, migration, and glycolysis of PSCs. In addition, miR-21 expression in activated PSCs was downregulated after RSV treatment, whereas the PTEN protein level increased. miR-21 silencing attenuated ROS-induced activation, invasion, migration, and glycolysis of PSCs, whereas the overexpression of miR-21 rescued the responses of PSCs treated with RSV. Moreover, RSV or N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) administration or miR-21 knockdown in PSCs reduced the invasion and migration of PCCs in coculture, and the effects of RSV were partly reversed by miR-21 upregulation. Collectively, RSV inhibits PCC invasion and migration through suppression of ROS/miR-21-mediated activation and glycolysis in PSCs. Therefore, targeting miR-21-mediated glycolysis by RSV in tumor stroma may serve as a new strategy for clinical PDAC prevention or treatment.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by an extremely poor prognosis, and its treatment remains a challenge. As the existing in vitro experimental models offer only a limited resemblance to human PDAC, there is a strong need for additional research tools to better understand PDAC tumor biology, particularly the impact of the tumor stroma. Here, we report for the first time the establishment and characterization of human PDAC-derived paired primary monolayer cultures of (epithelial) cancer cells (PCCs) and mesenchymal stellate cells (PSCs) derived from the same tumor by the outgrowth method. Characterization of cell morphology, cytostructural, and functional profiles and proteomics-based secretome analysis were performed. All PCCs harbored KRAS and TP53 mutations, and expressed cytokeratin 19, ki-67, and p53, while the expression of EpCAM and vimentin was variable. All PSCs expressed ?-smooth muscle actin (?-SMA) and vimentin. PCCs showed a significantly higher growth rate and proliferation than PSCs. Secretome analysis confirmed the distinct nature of PCCs as compared to PSCs and allowed identification of potential molecular regulators of PSC-conditioned medium (PSC-CM)-induced migration of PCCs. Paired primary cultures of PCCs and PSCs derived from the same tumor specimen represent a novel experimental model for basic research in PDAC tumor biology.
Project description:Metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal solid tumours despite the use of multi-agent conventional chemotherapy regimens. Such poor outcomes have fuelled ongoing efforts to exploit the tumour microenvironment (TME) for therapy, but strategies aimed at deconstructing the surrounding desmoplastic stroma and targeting the immunosuppressive pathways have largely failed. In fact, evidence has now shown that the stroma is multi-faceted, which illustrates the complexity of exploring features of the TME as isolated targets. In this Review, we describe ways in which the PDAC microenvironment has been targeted and note the current understanding of the clinical outcomes that have unexpectedly contradicted preclinical observations. We also consider the more sophisticated therapeutic strategies under active investigation - multi-modal treatment approaches and exploitation of biologically integrated targets - which aim to remodel the TME against PDAC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Gemcitabine remains a cornerstone in chemotherapy of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) despite suboptimal clinical effects that are partly due to the development of chemoresistance. Pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) of the tumor stroma are known to interact with pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs) and influence the progression of PDAC through a complex network of signaling molecules that involve extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. To understand tumor-stroma interactions regulating chemosensitivity, the role of PSC-secreted fibronectin (FN) in the development of gemcitabine resistance in PDAC was examined. METHODS:PSC cultures obtained from ten different human PDAC tumors were co-cultured with PCC lines (AsPC-1, BxPC-3, Capan-2, HPAF-II, MIA PaCa-2, PANC-1 and SW-1990) either directly, or indirectly via incubation with PSC-conditioned medium (PSC-CM). Gemcitabine dose response cytotoxicity was determined using MTT based cell viability assays. Protein expression was assessed by western blotting and immunofluorescence. PSC-CM secretome analysis was performed by proteomics-based LC-MS/MS, and FN content in PSC-CM was determined with ELISA. Radiolabeled gemcitabine was used to determine the capacity of PCCs to uptake the drug. RESULTS:In both direct and indirect co-culture, PSCs induced varying degrees of resistance to the cytotoxic effects of gemcitabine among all cancer cell lines examined. A variable degree of increased phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was observed across all PCC lines upon incubation with PSC-CM, while activation of AKT was not detected. Secretome analysis of PSC-CM identified 796 different proteins, including several ECM-related proteins such as FN and collagens. Soluble FN content in PSC-CM was detected in the range 175-350?ng/ml. Neither FN nor PSC-CM showed any effect on PCC uptake capacity of gemcitabine. PCCs grown on FN-coated surface displayed higher resistance to gemcitabine compared to cells grown on non-coated surface. Furthermore, a FN inhibitor, synthetic Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (RGDS) peptide significantly inhibited PSC-CM-induced chemoresistance in PCCs via downregulation of ERK1/2 phosphorylation. CONCLUSIONS:The findings of this study suggest that FN secreted by PSCs in the ECM plays a key role in the development of resistance to gemcitabine via activation of ERK1/2. FN-blocking agents added to gemcitabine-based chemotherapy might counteract chemoresistance in PDAC and provide better clinical outcomes.
Project description:Reciprocal interaction between pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) and cancer cells (PCCs) in the tumor microenvironment (TME) promotes tumor cell survival and progression to lethal, therapeutically resistant pancreatic cancer. The goal of this study was to test the ability of Palmatine (PMT) to disrupt this reciprocal interaction in vitro and examine the underlying mechanism of interaction. We show that PSCs secrete glutamine into the extracellular environment under nutrient deprivation. PMT suppresses glutamine-mediated changes in GLI signaling in PCCs resulting in the inhibition of growth and migration while inducing apoptosis by inhibition of survivin. PMT-mediated inhibition of (glioma-associated oncogene 1) GLI activity in stellate cells leads to suppression (collagen type 1 alpha 1) COL1A1 activation. Remarkably, PMT potentiated gemcitabine's growth inhibitory activity in PSCs, PCCs and inherently gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells. This is the first study that shows the ability of PMT to inhibit growth of PSCs and PCCs either alone or in combination with gemcitabine. These studies warrant additional investigations using preclinical models to develop PMT as an agent for clinical management of pancreatic cancer.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a dismal prognosis largely owing to inefficient diagnosis and tenacious drug resistance. Activation of pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) and consequent development of dense stroma are prominent features accounting for this aggressive biology1,2. The reciprocal interplay between PSCs and pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs) not only enhances tumour progression and metastasis but also sustains their own activation, facilitating a vicious cycle to exacerbate tumorigenesis and drug resistance3-7. Furthermore, PSC activation occurs very early during PDAC tumorigenesis8-10, and activated PSCs comprise a substantial fraction of the tumour mass, providing a rich source of readily detectable factors. Therefore, we hypothesized that the communication between PSCs and PCCs could be an exploitable target to develop effective strategies for PDAC therapy and diagnosis. Here, starting with a systematic proteomic investigation of secreted disease mediators and underlying molecular mechanisms, we reveal that leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a key paracrine factor from activated PSCs acting on cancer cells. Both pharmacologic LIF blockade and genetic Lifr deletion markedly slow tumour progression and augment the efficacy of chemotherapy to prolong survival of PDAC mouse models, mainly by modulating cancer cell differentiation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition status. Moreover, in both mouse models and human PDAC, aberrant production of LIF in the pancreas is restricted to pathological conditions and correlates with PDAC pathogenesis, and changes in the levels of circulating LIF correlate well with tumour response to therapy. Collectively, these findings reveal a function of LIF in PDAC tumorigenesis, and suggest its translational potential as an attractive therapeutic target and circulating marker. Our studies underscore how a better understanding of cell-cell communication within the tumour microenvironment can suggest novel strategies for cancer therapy.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most aggressive cancers with a low response to treatment and a five-year survival rate below 5%. The ineffectiveness of treatment is partly because of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, which comprises tumor-supportive pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs). Therefore, new therapeutic strategies are needed to tackle both the immunosuppressive PSC and pancreatic cancer cells (PCCs). Recently, physical cold atmospheric plasma consisting of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species has emerged as a novel treatment option for cancer. In this study, we investigated the cytotoxicity of plasma-treated phosphate-buffered saline (pPBS) using three PSC lines and four PCC lines and examined the immunogenicity of the induced cell death. We observed a decrease in the viability of PSC and PCC after pPBS treatment, with a higher efficacy in the latter. Two PCC lines expressed and released damage-associated molecular patterns characteristic of the induction of immunogenic cell death (ICD). In addition, pPBS-treated PCC were highly phagocytosed by dendritic cells (DCs), resulting in the maturation of DC. This indicates the high potential of pPBS to trigger ICD. In contrast, pPBS induced no ICD in PSC. In general, pPBS treatment of PCCs and PSCs created a more immunostimulatory secretion profile (higher TNF-? and IFN-?, lower TGF-?) in coculture with DC. Altogether, these data show that plasma treatment via pPBS has the potential to induce ICD in PCCs and to reduce the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment created by PSCs. Therefore, these data provide a strong experimental basis for further in vivo validation, which might potentially open the way for more successful combination strategies with immunotherapy for PDAC.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is characterised by a dense desmoplastic stroma composed of stromal cells and extracellular matrix (ECM). This barrier severely impairs drug delivery and penetration. Activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) play a key role in establishing this unique pathological obstacle, but also offer a potential target for anti-tumour therapy. Here, we construct a tumour microenvironment-responsive nanosystem, based on PEGylated polyethylenimine-coated gold nanoparticles, and utilise it to co-deliver all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA, an inducer of PSC quiescence) and siRNA targeting heat shock protein 47 (HSP47, a collagen-specific molecular chaperone) to re-educate PSCs. The nanosystem simultaneously induces PSC quiescence and inhibits ECM hyperplasia, thereby promoting drug delivery to pancreatic tumours and significantly enhancing the anti-tumour efficacy of chemotherapeutics. Our combination strategy to restore homoeostatic stromal function by targeting activated PSCs represents a promising approach to improving the efficacy of chemotherapy and other therapeutic modalities in a wide range of stroma-rich tumours.