Characterization of tumor-derived mesenchymal stem cells potentially differentiating into cancer-associated fibroblasts in lung cancer

S. Arena, M. Salati, G. Sorgentoni, F. Barbisan, M. Orciani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The goal of this study was to understand if mesenchymal stem cells isolated from lung tumor tissue (T-MSCs) may differentiate into cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs), that promote neoplastic progression, angiogenesis and metastasis in the epithelial solid tumors, mimicking the tumor microenvironmental influence. Methods: MSCs were been obtained from healthy (Control, C-MSCs) and tumor (T-MSCs) tissue of one patient who underwent a lobectomy for a lung adenocarcinoma pT1bN0. Isolated cells were characterized for the presence of molecular markers (identified by routine diagnostic characterization in differentiated tumoral cells), stemness properties, and CAF-related markers expression. Subsequently, cells were co-cultured with a lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549 cells) to evaluate the effects on proliferation, oncogene expression and IL6 secretion. Results: C- and T-MSCs did not present EGFR mutations unlike tumor tissue and showed a stem-like immunophenotype, characterized by the ability to differentiate towards osteo-, chondro- and adipogenic lineages. The expression of markers referred to CAFs (α-SMA, HI-1α, MMP11, VEGF, CXCL12, TGF-β1, TGF-βRII, IL6, TNFα) was significantly higher in T-MSCs than in C-MSCs. The co-cultures with A549 cells led to the over-expression of selected oncogenes and to the increase of IL6 secretion in T-MSCs but not in C-MSCs. Conclusions: MSCs isolated from tumor tissue displayed distinct properties compared to MSCs isolated from healthy tissue, suggesting T-MSCs differentiation towards a CAF-related phenotype under the influence of the tumoral microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1582-1591
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Translational Oncology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • IL6
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesenchymal stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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