International journal of oncology 2017 09 1951(5) 1482-1496 doi 10.3892/ijo.2017.4128
Breast cancer (BrC) is a major public health problem worldwide. The intra-tumoral heterogeneity and tumor cell plasticity importantly contribute to disease progression and treatment failure. However, the dynamic interactions between different tumor clones, as well as their contribution to tumor aggressiveness are still poorly understood. In this study, we provide evidence of a lateral transmission of aggressive features between aggressive and non-aggressive tumor cells, consisting of gain of expression of cancer stem cell markers, increased expression of CXCL12 receptors CXCR4 and CXCR7 and increased invasiveness in response to CXCL12, which correlated with high levels of secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators G-CSF, GM-CSF, MCP-1, IL-8 and metalloproteinases 1 and 2 by the aggressive cells. Noteworthy, we found no evidence of a TGF-β participation in the inducible-invasive phenotype. Altogether, our results provide evidence of communication between tumor cells with different potentials for aggressiveness, which could influence intra-tumoral population dynamics promoting the emergence of clones with novel functions. Understanding these interactions will provide better targets for diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic strategies.