Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 153–164 | Cite as

Mesenchymal stem cells from primary breast cancer tissue promote cancer proliferation and enhance mammosphere formation partially via EGF/EGFR/Akt pathway

  • Xin-long Yan
  • Chun-jiang Fu
  • Lin Chen
  • Jin-hua Qin
  • Quan Zeng
  • Hong-feng Yuan
  • Xue Nan
  • Hai-xu Chen
  • Jun-nian Zhou
  • Yan-li Lin
  • Xiao-mei Zhang
  • Cheng-ze Yu
  • Wen Yue
  • Xue-tao Pei
Preclinical Study


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) play a critical role in promoting cancer progression. However, it is not clear whether MSCs are located in breast cancer tissues and correlated with tumor proliferation. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of MSCs in breast cancer tissues and evaluate their interactions with cancer cells. We successfully isolated and identified MSCs from primary breast cancer tissues. Breast cancer-associated MSCs (BC-MSCs) showed homogenous immunophenotype, and possessed tri-lineage differentiation potential (osteoblast, adipocyte, and chondrocyte). When co-transplanted with cancer cells in a xenograft model in vivo, BC-MSCs significantly increased the volume and weight of tumors. We observed that BC-MSCs stimulated mammosphere formation in the transwell co-culture system in vitro. This effect was significantly suppressed by the EGF receptor inhibitor. We verified that BC-MSCs could secrete EGF and activate cancer cell’s EGF receptors. Furthermore, our data showed that EGF derived from BC-MSCs could promote mammosphere formation via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Our results confirmed the presence of MSC in primary breast cancer tissues, and they could provide a favorable microenvironment for tumor cell growth in vivo, partially enhance mammosphere formation via the EGF/EGFR/Akt pathway.


Mesenchymal stem cells Breast cancer Proliferation Mammosphere EGF Xenograft PI3K/Akt 



This study was supported by National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (No:2006AA02A107), the Major State Basic Research Program of China (No:2009CB521704, 2010CB945504), and National Nature Science Foundation of China, (30873031, 30971145).

Conflict of interest

The authors confirm that there are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 81 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 144 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 5949 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (TIFF 3301 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin-long Yan
    • 1
  • Chun-jiang Fu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lin Chen
    • 1
  • Jin-hua Qin
    • 1
  • Quan Zeng
    • 1
  • Hong-feng Yuan
    • 1
  • Xue Nan
    • 1
  • Hai-xu Chen
    • 1
  • Jun-nian Zhou
    • 1
  • Yan-li Lin
    • 4
  • Xiao-mei Zhang
    • 1
  • Cheng-ze Yu
    • 2
  • Wen Yue
    • 1
  • Xue-tao Pei
    • 1
  1. 1.Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine LabBeijing Institute of Transfusion MedicineBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryAffiliated Hospital of Academy of Military Medical SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Fangshan Traditional Chinese Medicine HospitalBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Cell BiologyInstitute of BiotechnologyBeijingChina

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