Tumor-activated mesenchymal stromal cells promote osteosarcoma stemness and migratory potential via IL-6 secretion

Margherita Cortini, Annamaria Massa, Sofia Avnet, Gloria Bonuccelli, Nicola Baldini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Osteosarcoma (OS) is an aggressive bone malignancy with a high relapse rate despite combined treatment with surgery and multiagent chemotherapy. As for other cancers, OS-associated microenvironment may contribute to tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis. We consider mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) as a relevant cellular component of OS microenvironment, and have previously found that the interaction between MSC and tumor cells is bidirectional: tumor cells can modulate their peripheral environment that in turn becomes more favorable to tumor growth through metabolic reprogramming. Here, we determined the effects of MSC on OS stemness and migration, two major features associated with recurrence and chemoresistance. The presence of stromal cells enhanced the number of floating spheres enriched in cancer stem cells (CSC) of the OS cell population. Furthermore, the co-culturing with MSC stimulated the migratory capacity of OS via TGFβ1 and IL-6 secretion, and the neutralizing antibody anti-IL-6 impaired this effect. Thus, stromal cells in combination with OS spheres exploit a vicious cycle where the presence of CSC stimulates mesenchymal cytokine secretion, which in turn increases stemness, proliferation, migration, and metastatic potential of CSC, also through the increase of expression of adhesion molecules like ICAM-1. Altogether, our data corroborate the concept that a comprehensive knowledge of the interplay between tumor and stroma that also includes the stem-like fraction of tumor cells is needed to develop novel and effective anti-cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0166500
Number of pages22
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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