Tumor microenvironmental plasmacytoid dendritic cells contribute to breast cancer lymph node metastasis via CXCR4/SDF-1 axis

  • Ramy GadallaEmail author
  • Hebatallah Hassan
  • Sherif Abdelaziz Ibrahim
  • Mahmoud Salah Abdullah
  • Ahmed Gaballah
  • Burkhard Greve
  • Somaya El-Deeb
  • Mohamed El-Shinawi
  • Mona Mostafa Mohamed
Preclinical study



Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDCs) infiltration into breast cancer tissues is associated with poor prognosis. Also, CXCR4 shows compelling evidences to be exploited by cancer cells to migrate to distant sites. The present study investigated lymph node metastasis in the light of PDCs infiltration and the potential cross talk with CXCR4/SDF-1 chemokine axis.


We assessed circulating PDCs proportions drained from the axillary tributaries, and the in situ expression of both CD303 and CXCR4 in breast cancer patients with positive lymph nodes (pLN) and negative lymph nodes (nLN) using immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry. We also analyzed the expression of SDF-1 in lymph nodes of pLN and nLN patients. We studied the effect of the secretome of PDCs of pLN and nLN patients on the expression of CXCR4 and activation of NF-κB in human breast cancer cell lines SKBR3 and MCF-7. TNF-α mRNA expression level in PDCs from both groups was determined by qPCR.


Our findings indicate increased infiltration of PDCs in breast cancer tissues of pLN patients than nLN patients, which correlates with CXCR4+ cells percentage. Interestingly, SDF-1 is highly immunostained in lymph nodes of pLN patients compared to nLN patients. Our in vitro experiments demonstrate an upregulation of NF-κB expression and CXCR4 cells upon stimulation with PDCs secretome of pLN patients than those of nLN patients. Also, PDCs isolated from pLN patients exhibited a higher TNF-α mRNA expression than nLN patients. Treatment of MCF-7 cell lines with TNF-α significantly upregulates CXCR4 expression.


Our findings suggest a potential role for microenvironmental PDCs in breast cancer lymph node metastasis via CXCR4/SDF-1 axis.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells CXCR4 Breast cancer Lymph node metastasis 



This work was conducted in Cancer Biology Research Laboratory (CBRL), Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Egypt. We thank Dr. Eslam El-Ghonaimy and Dr. Hossam Taha Mohamed (Researchers at CBRL, Faculty of Science, Cairo University) for their help in Western blotting and qPCR experiments, respectively.


This study was funded by Cairo University, Scientific Research Sector (SAI, HH, SE, MMM).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of Ain shams University research ethics committee, the Egyptian national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10549_2019_5129_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramy Gadalla
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author return OK on get
  • Hebatallah Hassan
    • 1
  • Sherif Abdelaziz Ibrahim
    • 1
  • Mahmoud Salah Abdullah
    • 1
  • Ahmed Gaballah
    • 2
  • Burkhard Greve
    • 3
  • Somaya El-Deeb
    • 1
  • Mohamed El-Shinawi
    • 4
  • Mona Mostafa Mohamed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceCairo UniversityGizaEgypt
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Oncology and Nuclear Medicine, Faculty of MedicineAin-Shams UniversityCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Department of Radiotherapy–RadiooncologyUniversity Hospital MünsterMünsterGermany
  4. 4.Department of General Surgery, Faculty of MedicineAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt
  5. 5.Princess Margaret Cancer CenterUniversity Health NetworkTorontoCanada

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