Macrophages derived exosomes deliver miR-223 to epithelial ovarian cancer cells to elicit a chemoresistant phenotype

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Background: How exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) derived from macrophages contribute to the development of drug resistance in the context of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) remains poorly understood. Methods: The miRNA levels were detected by qRT-PCR. Protein levels of HIF-1α, CD163 and PTEN-PI3K/AKT pathway were assessed by Western blot (WB) and Immunohistochemistry (IHC). Exosomes were isolated, and then confirmed by Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) and WB. Internalization of macrophages-secreted exosomes in EOC cells was detected by Confocal microscope. Subsequently, Dual-luciferase reporter assay verified PTEN was the target of miR-223. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments, rescue experiments, and SKOV3 xenograft models were performed to uncover the underlying mechanisms of miR-223 and PTEN-PI3K/AKT pathway, as well as the exosomal miR-223 in inducing multidrug resistance in vitro and in vivo. Results: Here, we showed hypoxic EOC cells triggered macrophages recruitment and induced macrophages into a tumor-associated macrophage (TAM)-like phenotype; exosomes derived from hypoxic macrophages enhanced the malignant phenotype of EOC cells, miR-223 was enriched in exosomes released from macrophages under hypoxia, which could be transferred to the co-cultivated EOC cells, accompanied by enhanced drug resistant of EOC cells. Besides, results from a functional assay revealed that exosomal miR-223 derived from macrophages promoted the drug resistance of EOC cells via the PTEN-PI3K/AKT pathway both in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, patients with high HIF-1a expression had statistically higher CD163+ cell infiltration and intertumoral levels of miR-223. Finally, circulating exosomal miR-223 levels were closely related to the recurrence of EOC. Conclusions: These data indicate a unique role of exosomal miR-223 in the cross-talk between macrophages and EOC cells in chemotherapy resistance, through a novel exosomal miR-223/PTEN-PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.




Zhu, X., Shen, H., Yin, X., Yang, M., Wei, H., Chen, Q., … Li, Y. (2019). Macrophages derived exosomes deliver miR-223 to epithelial ovarian cancer cells to elicit a chemoresistant phenotype. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, 38(1).

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