, Volume 35, Issue 7, pp 409-423,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 29 Jun 2011

Density of Gr1-positive myeloid precursor cells, p-STAT3 expression and gene expression pattern in canine mammary cancer metastasis


The very recent studies on human and mice models have indicated an important role of myeloid precursor cells (progenitors or not fully differentiated cells that express the Gr1 antigen also called Gr1-positive myeloid suppressor cells) in the tumor progression and metastasis. They are thought to suppress the immune system and promote angiogenesis via Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) activation. As of now there is no data available on the correlation of Gr1-positive cell number, phosphorylated STAT3 (p-STAT3) expression and cancer ability to metastasis. Thus, we counted the myeloid precursor cell number and analyzed p-STAT3 expression in 50 canine mammary tumors that gave local/distant metastases and did not metastasize. We showed that the number of Gr1-positive cells and p-STAT3 expression are significantly higher (p < 0.001) in the metastatic tumors than in the non-metastatic ones. We also observed higher expression of p-STAT3 in the canine mammary cancer cell lines with metastatic potential than in other cell lines (p < 0.001). Moreover, the number of myeloid precursors and p-STAT3 expression in metastatic tumors correlate strongly. The tumor infiltrating myeloid precursor cells may invigorate the STAT3 activity (probably via vascular endothelial growth factor – VEGF) that contributes to the tumor angiogenesis and furthermore tumor`s ability to metastasize. The analysis of gene expression in canine mammary cancer cell lines with metastatic potential indicated that semaphorin 3B (SEMA3B) and neuropilin receptors (NRP) may also be important elements in this process. Thus, we discuss the possible interactions within the tumor that may be required for cancer metastatis.