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Mesenchymal stem cells play a potential role in regulating the establishment and maintenance of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in MCF7 human breast cancer cells by paracrine and induced autocrine TGF-β

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Although the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a normal process that occurs during development, it is thought to be associated with cancer progression and metastasis. Emerging evidence links mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the tumor microenvironment with the occurrence of EMT in cancer progression. In this study, the human breast cancer cell line MCF7 was co-cultured with human adipose-derived MSCs (hAD-MSCs) in a transwell system. Co-cultured cells were analyzed for changes in cellular morphology, EMT markers, protein expression and tumor characteristics. We found that co-cultured MCF7 cells underwent EMT and established a stable mesenchymal phenotype after prolonged co-culturing. Here, we demonstrate that paracrine transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) secreted by hAD-MSCs regulated the establishment of EMT in MCF7 cells by targeting the ZEB/miR-200 regulatory loop. The downregulation of paracrine TGF-β1 levels can inhibit and reverse the EMT progress by downregulating ZEB1/2 and upregulating miR-200b and miR-200c. The maintenance of a stable mesenchymal state by MCF7 cells required the establishment of autocrine TGF-β signaling to drive and sustain ZEB expression, which had been initiated by the prolonged co-culturing with hAD-MSCs. These results suggest that MSCs may promote breast cancer metastasis by stimulating and facilitating the EMT process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100005, P.R. China 2: Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100005, P.R. China

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Oncology provides an international forum for the publication of the latest, cutting-edge research in the broad area of oncology and cancer treatment. The journal accepts original high quality works and reviews on all aspects of oncology research including carcinogenesis, metastasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy and viral oncology. Through fair and efficient peer review, the journal is dedicated to publishing top tier research in the field, offering authors rapid publication as well as high standards of copy-editing and production. The International Journal of Oncology is published on a monthly basis in both print and early online.
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