Mesenchymal stem cell-derived interleukin-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor promote breast cancer cell migration

Antonella De Luca, Luana Lamura, Marianna Gallo, Veronica Maffia, Nicola Normanno
Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 2012, 113 (11): 3363-70
Several different cytokines and growth factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been hypothesized to play a role in breast cancer progression. By using a small panel of breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, T47D, and SK-Br-3 cells), we analyzed the role of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF) in the cross-talk between MSCs and breast cancer cells. We performed migration assays in which breast cancer cells were allowed to migrate in response to conditioned medium from MSCs (MSCs-CM), in absence or in presence of the anti-VEGF antibody bevacizumab or an anti-IL-6 antibody, alone or in combination. We found that anti-VEGF and anti-IL-6 antibodies inhibited the migration of breast cancer cells and that the combination had an higher inhibitory effect. We next evaluated the effects of recombinant VEGF and IL-6 proteins on breast cancer cell growth and migration. IL-6 and VEGF had not significant effects on the proliferation of breast carcinoma cells. In contrast, both VEGF and IL-6 significantly increased the ability to migrate of MCF-7, T47D and SK-Br-3 cells, with the combination showing a greater effect as compared with treatment with a single protein. The combination of VEGF and IL-6 produced in breast cancer cells a more significant and more persistent activation of MAPK, AKT, and p38MAPK intracellular signaling pathways. These results suggest that MSC-secreted IL-6 and VEGF may act as paracrine factors to sustain breast cancer cell migration.

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