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Tumor-Associated Macrophages Expand Chemoresistant, Ovarian Cancer Stem-Like Cells

Research: Inhibiting Macrophages Improved Chemotherapy Response

ABSTRACT: The persistence of ovarian cancer stem-like cells (OvCSCs) after chemotherapy resistance has been implicated in relapse. However, the ability of these relatively quiescent cells to produce the robust tumor regrowth necessary for relapse remains an enigma. Since normal stem cells exist in a niche, and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are the highest abundance immune cell within ovarian tumors, we hypothesized that TAMs may influence OvCSC proliferation. To test this, we optimized OvCSC enrichment by sphere culture and in vitro polarization of monocytes to a TAM-like M2 phenotype. Using cocultures that permitted the exchange of only soluble factors, we found that M2 macrophages increased the proliferation of sphere cells. Longer-term exposure (5-7 days) to soluble TAM factors led to retention of some stem cell features by OvCSCs but loss of others, suggesting that TAMs may support an intermediate stemness phenotype in OvCSCs. Although TAM coculture decreased the percentage of OvCSCs surviving chemotherapy, it increased the overall number. We therefore sought to determine the influence of this interaction on chemotherapy efficacy in vivo and found that inhibiting macrophages improved chemotherapy response. Comparing the gene expression changes in OvCSCs cocultured with TAMs to publicly available patient data identified 34 genes upregulated in OvCSCs by exposure to soluble TAM factors whose expression correlates with outcome. Overall, these data suggest that TAMs may influence OvCSC proliferation and impact therapeutic response.

Researchers & Authors: Allison C Sharrow*, Madeline Ho, Aakriti Dua, Raquel Buj, Kim R.M. Blenman, Sandra Orsulic, Ronald Buckanovich, Katherine M Aird, Lily Wu

*Allison C. Sharrow, PhD is a Prognosis:Innovation partner

FULL CONTENT Courtesy of BioRxiv