The following is a summary of “Biological differences between normal and cancer-associated fibroblasts in breast cancer,” published in the September 2023 issue of Oncology by Hu et al.
Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are the most common cells in the tumor microenvironment and play a key role in breast cancer progression. The mechanisms by which CAFs promote cancer are not fully understood.
Researchers performed a retrospective study to understand the biological differences between normal fibroblasts (NFs) and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in breast cancer and how they contribute to cancer progression.
The study obtained 3 sets of CAFs and NFs from breast cancer patients with various subtypes, all without prior radiotherapy or chemotherapy. They analyzed the appearance of CAFs and NFs using microscopy, assessed their biological properties with cell counting kits and transwell assays, and simulated their impact on breast cancer cells in a co-culture system. They sequenced the miRNA profiles of CAFs and NFs using an Illumina HiSeq 2500 platform.
CAFs showed increased growth and motility compared to NFs, and they had a greater ability to enhance the aggressiveness of breast cancer cells. RNA sequencing of both NFs and CAFs revealed distinct miRNA expression patterns, with variability observed among patients. The target genes of these miRNAs shared significant similarities in GO terms and KEGG pathways across patients with different profiles.
The study found that CAFs were more aggressive than NFs and could promote breast cancer cells’ growth, migration, invasion, and chemoresistance. The miRNAs differentially expressed in CAFs vary across breast cancer subtypes, but the genes these miRNAs target were enriched in the same GO terms and KEGG pathways.