Adipose progenitor cell secretion of GM-CSF and MMP9 promotes a stromal and immunological microenvironment that supports breast cancer progression

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A cell population with progenitor-like phenotype (CD45-CD34+) resident in human white adipose tissue (WAT) is known to promote the progression of local and metastatic breast cancer and angiogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms of the interaction have not been elucidated. In this study, we identified two proteins that were significantly upregulated in WAT-derived progenitors after coculture with breast cancer: granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9). These proteins were released by WAT progenitors in xenograft and transgenic breast cancer models. GM-CSF was identified as an upstream modulator. Breast cancer–derived GM-CSF induced GM-CSF and MMP9 release from WAT progenitors, and GM-CSF knockdown in breast cancer cells neutralized the protumorigenic activity of WAT progenitors in preclinical models. GM-CSF neutralization in diet-induced obese mice significantly reduced immunosuppression, intratumor vascularization, and local and metastatic breast cancer progression. Similarly, MMP9 inhibition reduced neoplastic angiogenesis and significantly decreased local and metastatic tumor growth. Combined GM-CSF neutralization and MMP9 inhibition synergistically reduced angiogenesis and tumor progression. High-dose metformin inhibited GM-CSF and MMP9 release from WAT progenitors in in vitro and xenograft models. In obese syngeneic mice, metformin treatment mimicked the effects observed with GM-CSF neutralization and MMP9 inhibition, suggesting these proteins as new targets for metformin. These findings support the hypothesis that GM-CSF and MMP9 promote the protumorigenic effect of WAT progenitors on local and metastatic breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5169-5182
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this