C Zhang, L Fu, J Fu, L Hu, H Yang, T. H Rong, Y Li, H Liu, S. B Fu, Y. X Zeng and X. Y. Guan
Clinical Cancer Research, 2009, 15(12), 4017-4027. DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-2824
Purpose: Tumor fibroblasts (TF) have been suggested to play an essential role in the complex process of tumor-stroma interactions and tumorigenesis. The aim of the present study was to investigate the specific role of TF in the esophageal cancer microenvironment.
Experimental Design: An Affymetrix expression microarray was used to compare gene expression profiles between six pairs of TFs and normal fibroblasts from esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Differentially expressed genes were identified, and a subset was evaluated by quantitative real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry.
Results: About 43% (126 of 292) of known deregulated genes in TFs were associated with cell proliferation, extracellular matrix remodeling, and immune response. Up-regulation of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2), which showed the most significant change, was detected in all six tested TFs compared with their paired normal fibroblasts. A further study found that FGFR2-positive fibroblasts were only observed inside the tumor tissues and not in tumor-surrounding stromal tissues, suggesting that FGFR2 could be used as a TF-specific marker in ESCC. Moreover, the conditioned medium from TFs was found to be able to promote ESCC tumor cell growth, migration, and invasion in vitro.
Conclusions: Our study provides new candidate genes for the esophageal cancer microenvironment. Based on our results, we hypothesize that FGFR2(+)-TFs might provide cancer cells with a suitable microenvironment via secretion of proteins that could promote cancer development and progression through stimulation of cancer cell proliferation, induction of angiogenesis, inhibition of cell adhesion, enhancement of cell mobility, and promotion of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition.