HepG2 cells acquire stem cell-like characteristics after immune cell stimulation

Hang Wang, Miqing Yang, Ling Lin, Hongzhen Ren, Chaotong Lin, Suling Lin, Guoying Shen, Binfeng Ji, Chun Meng
Cellular Oncology (Dordrecht) 2016, 39 (1): 35-45

BACKGROUND: The presence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is currently regarded as one of the main culprits of tumor formation and therapy failure. It is known that chronic inflammation is associated with CSCs, but it is not clear yet how inflammation affects the development of CSCs. In the present study we aimed to examine the relationship between cancer cell stimulation mediated by immune cells and the acquisition of a CSC-like phenotype.

METHODS: Cancer cells derived from single hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cells were treated with mouse splenic B cells (MSBCs) and mouse peritoneal macrophage cells (MPMCs), respectively. The stem cell-like characteristics of the resulting HepG2 cells (MSBC-HepG2 and MPMC-HepG2) were evaluated using different assays, including biomarker assays, in vitro tumoroid and colony forming assays, in vivo tumor forming assays and signal transduction pathway activation assays.

RESULTS: Various stemness characteristics of HepG2 cells, including self-renewal, proliferation, chemoresistance and tumorigenicity were evaluated. The expression levels of stemness-related genes and its encoded proteins in the MSBC-HepG2 and MPMC-HepG2 cells were assessed using RT-PCR and FACS analyses. We found that MSBC-HepG2 and MPMC-HepG2 cells possess hepatic CSC properties, including persistent self-renewal, extensive proliferation, drug resistance, high tumorigenic capacity and over-expression of CSC-related genes and proteins (i.e., EpCAM, ALDH, CD133 and CD44), compared to the parental cells. We also found that 1x10(3) MSBC-HepG2 and MPMC-HepG2 cells were able to form tumors in NOD/SCID mice and that the Notch and SHH signaling pathways were highly activated in MSBC-HepG2 cells.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the immune system may have a double-edge effect on cancer development. On one hand, immune cells such as B lymphocytes and macrophages may recognize, attack and eliminate cancer cells, whereas on the other hand, they may promote a subset of cancer cells to acquire stem cell-like characteristics.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"