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Am J Pathol. 1997 Aug;151(2):479-92.

Tumor cell and connective tissue cell interactions in human colorectal adenocarcinoma. Transfer of platelet-derived growth factor-AB/BB to stromal cells.

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  • 1Department of Medical and Physiological Chemistry, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


Mechanisms underlying stimulation of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) beta-receptors expressed on connective tissue cells in human colorectal adenocarcinoma were investigated in this study. PDGF-AB/BB, but not PDGF receptors, was expressed by tumor cells in situ, as well as in tumor cell isolates of low passage from human colorectal adenocarcinoma. In an experimental co-culture system, conditioned medium from tumor cells only marginally activated PDGF beta-receptors expressed on fibroblasts. In contrast, co-culturing of the two cell types led to a marked PDGF beta-receptor activation. Functional PDGF-AB/BB was found to be associated with heparinase-I-sensitive components on the tumor cell surface. PDGF-AB/BB, isolated from heparinase-I-sensitive cell surface components, induced a marked activation of PDGF beta-receptors. Furthermore, co-culturing tumor cells together with fibroblasts led to a sustained activation of PDGF beta-receptors expressed on fibroblasts. Double immunofluorescence staining of tissue sections from human colorectal adenocarcinoma, combined with computer-aided image analysis, revealed that nonproliferating tumor cells were the predominant cellular source of PDGF-AB/BB in the tumor stroma. In addition, PDGF-AB/BB-expressing tumor cells were found juxtapositioned to microvascular cells expressing activated PDGF beta-receptors. Confocal microscopy revealed a cytoplasmic and cell-membrane-associated expression of PDGF-AB/BB in tumor cells situated in the stroma. In contrast, epithelial cells situated in normal or tumorous acinar structures revealed only a cell-membrane-associated PDGF-AB/BB expression. The is vitro and in situ results demonstrate that tumor cells not only facilitate but also have the ability to modulate connective tissue cell responsiveness to PDGF-AB/BB in a paracrine fashion, through direct cell-cell interactions in human colorectal adenocarcinoma.

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