Molecular crosstalk between cancer cells and tumor microenvironment components suggests potential targets for new therapeutic approaches in mobile tongue cancer
Recent studies have shown that stromal fibroblasts have a more profound influence on the initiation and progression of carcinoma than was previously appreciated. This study aimed at investigating the reciprocal relationship between cancer cells and their associated fibroblasts at both the molecular and cellular level in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). To identify key molecular regulators expressed by carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAF) that promote cancer cell invasion, microarrays were performed by comparing cocultured OSCC cells and CAF with monoculture controls. Microarray and real-time PCR analysis identified marked upregulation of the chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 7 (CCL7) in cocultured CAF. ELISA showed an elevated level of CCL7 secretion from CAF stimulated by coculture with OSCC cells. CCL7 promoted the invasion and migration of OSCC cells, and the invasiveness was inhibited by treatment with CCL7 neutralizing antibody. OSCC cells were shown to express CCR1, CCR2 and CCR3, receptors for CCL7, by RT-PCR. In addition, treatment with anti-CCR1 or anti-CCR3 antibody inhibited CCL7-induced OSCC cell migration, implicating that CCL7 promotes cancer cell migration through CCR1 and CCR3 on OSCC cells. Cytokine antibody array analysis of the supernatant from OSCC cell culture revealed that interleukin-1alpha was an inducer of CCL7 secretion by CAF. This study confirms the reciprocal relationship of the molecular crosstalk regulating the invasion of OSCC and describes new potential targets for future therapy.