Liver metastasis of pancreatic cancer: The hepatic microenvironment impacts differentiation and self-renewal capacity of pancreatic ductal epithelial cells

Hendrike Knaack, Lennart Lenk, Lisa Marie Philipp, Lauritz Miarka, Sascha Rahn, Fabrice Viol, Charlotte Hauser, Jan Hendrik Egberts, Jan Paul Gundlach, Olga Will, Sanjay Tiwari, Wolfgang Mikulits, Udo Schumacher, Jan G. Hengstler, Susanne Sebens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is often diagnosed at advanced stages with the liver as the main site of metastases. The hepatic microenvironment has been shown to determine outgrowth of liver metastases. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are essential for initiation and maintenance of tumors and acquisition of CSC-properties has been linked to Epithelial-Mesenchymal-Transition. Thus, this study aimed at elucidating whether and how the hepatic microenvironment impacts stemness and differentiation of disseminated pancreatic ductal epithelial cells (PDECs). Culture of premalignant H6c7-kras and malignant Panc1 PDECs together with hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) promoted self-renewal capacity of both PDEC lines. This was indicated by higher colony formation compared to cells cocultured with hepatocytes and hepatic myofibroblasts. Different Panc1 colony types derived from an HSC-enriched coculture were expanded and characterized revealing that holoclones exhibited an enhanced colony formation ability, elevated and exclusive expression of the CSC-marker Nestin and a more pronounced mesenchymal phenotype compared to paraclones. Moreover, Panc1 holoclone cells showed an increased tumorigenic potential in vivo leading to formation of undifferentiated tumors in 7/10 animals, while inoculation of paraclone cells only led to formation of tumors in 2/10 animals being smaller in number and size. Holoclone tumors were characterized by elevated expression of mesenchymal markers, complete loss of E-cadherin expression and high expression of Nestin. Finally, Etanercept-mediated TNF-α blocking partly reversed the mesenchymal CSC-phenotype of Panc1 holoclone cells. Overall, these data provide evidence that the hepatic microenvironment determines stemness and differentiation of PDECs, thereby substantially contributing to liver metastases of PDAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31771-31786
Number of pages16
JournalONCOTARGET
Volume9
Issue number60
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Knaack et al.

Keywords

  • Cancer stem cell
  • EMT
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal-transition
  • Hepatic microenvironment
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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