Tumor stroma-secreted growth factors, cytokines, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) influence tumor development from early stages to the metastasis phase. Previous studies have demonstrated downregulation of ROS-producing extracellular superoxide dismutase (SOD3) in thyroid cancer cell lines although according to recent data, the expression of SOD3 at physiological levels stimulates normal and cancer cell proliferation. Therefore, to analyze the expression of SOD3 in tumor stroma, we characterized stromal cells from the thyroid. We report mutually exclusive desmoplasia and inflammation in papillary and follicular thyroid cancers and the presence of multipotent mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) in non-carcinogenic thyroids and papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). The phenotypic and differentiation characteristics of Thyroid MSCs and PTC MSCs were comparable with bone marrow MSCs. A molecular level analysis showed increased FIBROBLAST ACTIVATING PROTEIN, COLLAGEN 1 TYPE A1, TENASCIN, and SOD3 expression in PTC MSCs compared to Thyroid MSCs, suggesting the presence of MSCs with a fibrotic fingerprint in papillary thyroid cancer tumors and the autocrine-paracrine conversion of SOD3 expression, which was enhanced by cancer cells. Stromal SOD3 had a stimulatory effect on cancer cell growth and an inhibitory effect on cancer cell migration, thus indicating that SOD3 might be a novel player in thyroid tumor stroma.
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