TNFα-activated mesenchymal stromal cells promote breast cancer metastasis by recruiting CXCR2+ neutrophils

P. F. Yu, Y. Huang, Y. Y. Han, L. Y. Lin, W. H. Sun, A. B. Rabson, Y. Wang, Y. F. Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) tend to infiltrate into tumors and form a major component of the tumor microenvironment. Our previous work demonstrated that tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα)-activated MSCs significantly promoted tumor growth. However, the role of TNFα-treated MSCs in tumor metastasis remains elusive. Employing a lung metastasis model of murine breast cancer, we found that TNFα-activated MSCs strikingly enhanced tumor metastasis compared with normal MSCs. We analyzed the chemokine profiles and found that the expression of CCL5, CCR2 and CXCR2 ligands were enhanced in TNFα-activated MSCs. Using genetic or pharmacological strategies to inhibit CCL5 or CCR2, we demonstrated that CCL5 and CCR2 ligands were indispensable in supporting TNFα-activated MSCs to promote tumor metastasis. Analysis of immune cells revealed that CXCR2 ligands (CXCL1, CXCL 2 and CXCL5) expressed by TNFα-activated MSCs efficiently recruited CXCR2+ neutrophils into tumor. These neutrophils were responsible for the pro-metastatic effect of MSCs since inhibition of this chemotaxis abolished increased neutrophil recruitment and tumor metastasis. The interaction between neutrophils and tumor cells resulted in markedly elevated metastasis-related genes by tumor cells, including CXCR4, CXCR7, MMP12, MMP13, IL-6 and TGFβ. Importantly, in IL8 high human breast cancer samples, we also observed similar alterations of gene expression. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that TNFα-activated MSCs promote tumor metastasis via CXCR2+ neutrophil recruitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-490
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 26 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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