Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) metastasis occurs by exfoliation of cells and multicellular aggregates (MCAs) from the tumor into the peritoneal cavity, adhesion to and retraction of peritoneal mesothelial cells and subsequent anchoring. Elevated levels of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) have been linked to aberrant cell proliferation, oncogenesis, and metastasis. LPA disrupts junctional integrity and epithelial cohesion in vitro however, the fate of free-floating cells/MCAs and the response of host peritoneal tissues to LPA remain unclear. EOC MCAs displayed significant LPA-induced changes in surface ultrastructure with the loss of cell surface protrusions and poor aggregation, resulting in increased dissemination of small clusters compared to untreated control MCAs. LPA also diminished the adhesive capacity of EOC single cells and MCAs to murine peritoneal explants and impaired MCA survival and mesothelial clearance competence. Peritoneal tissues from healthy mice injected with LPA exhibited enhanced mesothelial surface microvilli. Ultrastructural alterations were associated with restricted peritoneal susceptibility to metastatic colonization by single cells as well as epithelial-type MCAs. The functional consequence is an LPA-induced dissemination of small mesenchymal-type clusters, promoting a miliary mode of peritoneal seeding that complicates surgical removal and is associated with worse prognosis.

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PubMed