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Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Sep 1;13(17):5020-7.

Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 secreted by primary breast tumors stimulates migration of mesenchymal stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.



Major barriers to effective adenovirus-based gene therapy include induction of an immune response and tumor-specific targeting of vectors. The use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) as systemic delivery vehicles for therapeutic genes has been proposed as a result of their combined ability to home in on the tumor site and evade the host immune response. This study is aimed at investigating factors mediating homing of human MSCs to breast cancer primary cultures and cell lines in vitro and in vivo.


Fluorescently labeled MSCs were given to mice bearing breast cancer xenografts, and tumor tissue was harvested to detect MSC engraftment. MSC migration in response to primary breast tumors in vitro was quantified, and chemokines secreted by tumor cells were identified. The role of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) in cell migration was investigated using antibodies and standards of the chemokine. Serum MCP-1 was measured in 125 breast cancer patients and 86 healthy controls.


Engrafted MSCs were detected in metastatic breast tumors in mice after systemic administration. There was a significant increase in MSC migration in response to primary breast tumor cells in vitro (6-fold to 11-fold increase). Tumor explants secreted a variety of chemokines including GROalpha, MCP-1, and stromal cell-derived factor-1alpha. An MCP-1 antibody caused a significant decrease (37-42%) in MSC migration to tumors. Serum MCP-1 levels were significantly higher in postmenopausal breast cancer patients than age-matched controls (P < 0.05).


These results highlight a role for tumor-secreted MCP-1 in stimulating MSC migration and support the potential of these cells as tumor-targeted delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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