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Cancer Biol Ther. 2012 Jul;13(9):782-92. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Mesenchymal stem cells in mammary adipose tissue stimulate progression of breast cancer resembling the basal-type.

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Department of Pathology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA.


Data are accumulating to support a role for adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in breast cancer progression; however, to date most studies have relied on adipose MSCs from non-breast sources. There is a particular need to investigate the role of adipose MSCs in the pathogenesis of basal-like breast cancer, which develops at a disproportionate rate in pre-menopausal African-American women with a gain in adiposity. The aim of this study was to better understand how breast adipose MSCs (bMSCs) contribute to the progression of basal-like breast cancers by relying on isogenic HMT-3255 S3 (pre-invasive) and T4-2 (invasive) human cells that upon transplantation into nude mice resemble this tumor subtype. In vitro results suggested that bMSCs may contribute to breast cancer progression in multiple ways. bMSCs readily penetrate extracellular matrix components in part through their expression of matrix metalloproteinases 1 and 3, promote the invasion of T4-2 cells and efficiently chemoattract endothelial cells via a bFGF-independent, VEGF-A-dependent manner. As mixed xenografts, bMSCs stimulated the growth, invasion and desmoplasia of T4-2 tumors, yet these resident stem cells showed no observable effect on the progression of pre-invasive S3 cells. While bMSCs form vessel-like structures within Matrigel both in vitro and in vivo and chemoattract endothelial cells, there appeared to be no difference between T4-2/bMSC mixed xenografts and T4-2 xenografts with regard to intra- or peri-tumoral vascularity. Collectively, our data suggest that bMSCs may contribute to the progression of basal-like breast cancers by stimulating growth and invasion but not vasculogenesis or angiogenesis.

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