BACKGROUND: The recruitment of vascular stromal and endothelial cells is an early event occurring during cancer cell growth at premetastatic niches, but how the microenvironment created by the initial three-dimensional (3D) growth of cancer cells affects their angiogenesis-stimulating potential is unclear. METHODS: The proangiogenic profile of CT26 murine colorectal carcinoma cells was studied in seven-day cultured 3D-spheroids of <300 mum in diameter, produced by the hanging-drop method to mimic the microenvironment of avascular micrometastases prior to hypoxia occurrence. RESULTS: Spheroid-derived CT26 cells increased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion by 70%, which in turn increased the in vitro migration of primary cultured hepatic sinusoidal endothelium (HSE) cells by 2-fold. More importantly, spheroid-derived CT26 cells increased lymphocyte function associated antigen (LFA)-1-expressing cell fraction by 3-fold; and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, given to spheroid-cultured CT26 cells, further increased VEGF secretion by 90%, via cyclooxygenase (COX)-2-dependent mechanism. Consistent with these findings, CT26 cancer cells significantly increased LFA-1 expression in non-hypoxic avascular micrometastases at their earliest inception within hepatic lobules in vivo; and angiogenesis also markedly increased in both subcutaneous tumors and hepatic metastases produced by spheroid-derived CT26 cells. CONCLUSION: 3D-growth per se enriched the proangiogenic phenotype of cancer cells growing as multicellular spheroids or as subclinical hepatic micrometastases. The contribution of integrin LFA-1 to VEGF secretion via COX-2 was a micro environmental-related mechanism leading to the pro-angiogenic activation of soluble ICAM-1-activated colorectal carcinoma cells. This mechanism may represent a new target for specific therapeutic strategies designed to block colorectal cancer cell growth at a subclinical micrometastatic stage within the liver.
Valcárcel, M., Arteta, B., Jaureguibeitia, A., Lopategi, A., Martínez, I., Mendoza, L., … Vidal-Vanaclocha, F. (2008). Three-dimensional growth as multicellular spheroid activates the proangiogenic phenotype of colorectal carcinoma cells via LFA-1-dependent VEGF: Implications on hepatic micrometastasis. Journal of Translational Medicine, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5876-6-57