Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 20, Issue 12, pp 1582–1591 | Cite as

Characterization of tumor-derived mesenchymal stem cells potentially differentiating into cancer-associated fibroblasts in lung cancer

  • S. Arena
  • M. Salati
  • G. Sorgentoni
  • F. Barbisan
  • M. Orciani
Research Article



The goal of this study was to understand if mesenchymal stem cells isolated from lung tumor tissue (T-MSCs) may differentiate into cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs), that promote neoplastic progression, angiogenesis and metastasis in the epithelial solid tumors, mimicking the tumor microenvironmental influence.


MSCs were been obtained from healthy (Control, C-MSCs) and tumor (T-MSCs) tissue of one patient who underwent a lobectomy for a lung adenocarcinoma pT1bN0. Isolated cells were characterized for the presence of molecular markers (identified by routine diagnostic characterization in differentiated tumoral cells), stemness properties, and CAF-related markers expression. Subsequently, cells were co-cultured with a lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549 cells) to evaluate the effects on proliferation, oncogene expression and IL6 secretion.


C- and T-MSCs did not present EGFR mutations unlike tumor tissue and showed a stem-like immunophenotype, characterized by the ability to differentiate towards osteo-, chondro- and adipogenic lineages. The expression of markers referred to CAFs (α-SMA, HI-1α, MMP11, VEGF, CXCL12, TGF-β1, TGF-βRII, IL6, TNFα) was significantly higher in T-MSCs than in C-MSCs. The co-cultures with A549 cells led to the over-expression of selected oncogenes and to the increase of IL6 secretion in T-MSCs but not in C-MSCs.


MSCs isolated from tumor tissue displayed distinct properties compared to MSCs isolated from healthy tissue, suggesting T-MSCs differentiation towards a CAF-related phenotype under the influence of the tumoral microenvironment.


Lung cancer Mesenchymal stem cells Cancer-associated fibroblasts IL6 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

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

Supplementary material

12094_2018_1894_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)
12094_2018_1894_MOESM2_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 13 kb)
12094_2018_1894_MOESM3_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OncologyUniversity of TorinoCandioloItaly
  2. 2.Candiolo Cancer Institute-FPO, IRCCSCandioloItaly
  3. 3.Unit of Thoracic SurgeryAOU Ospedali RiunitiAnconaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Molecular and Clinical Sciences-HistologyUniversità Politecnica delle MarcheAnconaItaly
  5. 5.Unit of PathologyAOU Ospedali RiunitiAnconaItaly

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