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Glial cell-derived soluble factors increase the metastatic potential of pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells and induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.

Journal of cancer research and clinical oncology

Authors: Balbina García-Reyes, Ivan Kuzmanov, Reiner Schneider, Bianca Schneiker, Patrik Efferz, Jörg C Kalff, Sven Wehner

BACKGROUND: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most aggressive types of cancer, characterized by the spreading of highly metastatic cancer cells, including invasion into surrounding nerves and perineural spaces. Nerves, in turn, can invade the tumor tissue and, through the secretion of neurotrophic factors, chemokines, and cytokines, contribute to PDAC progression. However, the contribution of the nerve-associated glial cells to PDAC progression is not well characterized.

METHODS: Two murine PDAC cell lines were cultured with the conditioned media (CM) of primary enteric glial cells or IMS32 Schwann cells (SCs). Different properties of PDAC cells, such as invasiveness, migratory capacity, and resistance to gemcitabine, were measured by RT-qPCR, microscopy, and MTT assays. Using a neuronal cell line, the observed effects were confirmed to be specific to the glial lineage.

RESULTS: Compared to the control medium, PDAC cells in the glial cell-conditioned medium showed increased invasiveness and migratory capacity. These cells showed reduced E-cadherin and increased N-cadherin and Vimentin levels, all markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Primary enteric glial cell CM inhibited the proliferation of PDAC cells but preserved their viability, upregulated transcription factor Snail, and increased their resistance to gemcitabine. The conditioned medium generated from the IMS32 SCs produced comparable results.

CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that glial cells can increase the metastatic potential of PDAC cells by increasing their migratory capacity and inducing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, a re-programming that many solid tumors use to undergo metastasis. Glial cell-conditioned medium also increased the chemoresistance of PDAC cells. These findings may have implications for future therapeutic strategies, such as targeting glial cell-derived factor signaling in PDAC.

© 2023. The Author(s).

PMID: 37572121

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