Stroma cells: A novel target of herceptin activity

Chiara Corsini, Patrizia Mancuso, Saki Paul, Alessandra Burlini, Giovanni Martinelli, Giancarlo Pruneri, Francesco Bertolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Stroma cells play a relevant role in tumor development and progression. We investigated the activity of herceptin (HER), a humanized monoclonal antibody widely used for the treatment of HER2-overexpressing epithelial cancer, toward stroma cell lines L87/4 and L88/5. Experimental design: We studied the antiproliferative potential of HER and role of human serum in HER activity. We also investigated the ability of HER to alter ancillary functions of L87/4 and L88/5, such as support to long-term hematopoiesis, growth factor production, breast cancer cell adhesion, and proliferation. Results: Flow cytometry showed that HER2 membrane expression in L87/4 and L88/5 stroma cells was intermediate between the expression in HER2-negative/dim MCF-7 breast cancer cells and HER2-bright SK-BC3 breast cancer cells. HER2 gene amplification was not detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization in either stromal cell lines. HER significantly inhibited L87/4 and L88/5 proliferation. Mean ID 50s were found to be 2000 and 1700 μg/ml for L87/4 and L88/5, respectively, after 3-day exposure and 800 μg/ml for both cell lines after 9-day exposure. The presence of 10% human serum in the culture increased HER inhibitory activity. IC 50 of stroma cells was found to be intermediate between HER2-bright breast cancer cells (SK-BC3) and HER2-negative/dim breast cancer cells (MCF-7). The drug did not significantly affect the ability of stroma cells to support long-term hematopoiesis in the cobblestone area forming cell assay. In contrast, in coculture assay, MCF7 cells demonstrated a worse adhesion and growth capability on HER-treated stroma layers when compared with untreated stroma. Moreover, HER significantly reduced vascular endothelial growth factor production by L88/5 cells. Conclusions: Our data support the novel finding that HER may have a relevant activity against stroma cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1820-1825
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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