The metastatic ability of Ewing's sarcoma cells is modulated by stem cell factor and by its receptor c-kit

L. Landuzzi, C. De Giovanni, G. Nicoletti, I. Rossi, C. Ricci, A. Astolfi, L. Scopece, K. Scotlandi, M. Serra, G. P. Bagnara, P. Nanni, P. L. Lollini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ewing's sarcoma is a primitive highly malignant tumor of bone and soft tissues usually metastasizing to bone, bone marrow, and lung. Growth factor receptors and their ligands may be involved in its growth and dissemination. We analyzed the expression of c-kit and its ligand stem cell factor (SCF) in a panel of six Ewing's sarcoma cell lines. All cell lines exhibited substantial levels of surface c-kit expression, and five of six displayed transmembrane SCF on the cell surface. Expression of c-kit was down-modulated in all lines by exposure to exogenous SCF. The SCF treatment was able to confer to cells a growth advantage in vitro, due both to an increase in cell proliferation and to a reduction in the apoptotic rate. When used in the lower compartment of a migration chamber, SCF acted as a strong chemoattractant for Ewing's sarcoma cells. The pretreatment of cells with SCF reduced their chemotactic response to SCF. In athymic nude mice, Ewing's sarcoma cells injected intravenously metastasized to the lung and to a variety of extrapulmonary sites, including bone and bone marrow. Metastatic sites resembled those observed in Ewing's sarcoma patients and corresponded to SCF-rich microenvironments. The in vitro pretreatment of cells with SCF strongly reduced the metastatic ability of Ewing's sarcoma cells, both to the lung and to extrapulmonary sites. This could be dependent on the down-modulation of c-kit expression observed in SCF-pretreated cells, leading to a reduced sensitivity to the chemotactic and proliferative actions of SCF. Our results indicate that the response to SCF mediated by c-kit may be involved in growth, migration, and metastatic ability of Ewing's sarcoma cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2123-2131
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

Cite this

Landuzzi, L., De Giovanni, C., Nicoletti, G., Rossi, I., Ricci, C., Astolfi, A., Scopece, L., Scotlandi, K., Serra, M., Bagnara, G. P., Nanni, P., & Lollini, P. L. (2000). The metastatic ability of Ewing's sarcoma cells is modulated by stem cell factor and by its receptor c-kit. American Journal of Pathology, 157(6), 2123-2131.