The Impact of Adipose-Associated Stromal Cells on the Metastatic Potential of Ovarian Cancer

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Virginia Tech

Obesity is a major global health concern due to its steadily increasing rates and significant contribution to numerous diseases, including cancer. Ovarian cancer specifically, is associated with a 30% increased risk with obesity, although the mechanisms for this are unknown. Waist-to-hip ratio has been especially associated with ovarian cancer, suggesting that visceral fat may be the greatest contributor. Here, we investigated individual visceral fat depots as independent contributors to cancer progression, specifically focusing on adipose tissue-derived stem and progenitor cells, which have previously been shown to be recruited by cancer cells and participate in cancer progression. We confirmed that ovarian cancer tumor burden was indeed significantly increased in mice on a high fat as compared to low fat diet. To further investigate mechanisms, we examined changes in progenitor populations that occurred in intra-abdominal parametrial (pmWAT), retroperitoneal (rpWAT), and omental (omWAT) white adipose tissue (WAT) depots with cancer presence. The greatest tumor burden was evident in omWAT, which also displayed an increase in CD45- cells but a decrease in adipose progenitor cells (APC) and endothelial progenitor cells, suggesting that there was an increase in stromal cells, but that the stem cells were pushed towards differentiation. PmWAT and rpWAT showed remarkably stable progenitor populations. However, a tumor from pmWAT had a significant presence of CD45- cells, actually matching that of its surrounding tissue and differing from the omWAT tumors, indicating that microenvironment has a major influence on tumor stromal cells. We also found that with high fat diet, many cancer-associated changes were exacerbated, such as an increased inflammatory response in all tissues and further decreases in APCs in omWAT. In vitro studies further confirmed that ovarian cancer cells and SVF cells were able to directly interact. Additionally, SVF cells were able to increase the proliferation, mobility, and invasiveness of cancer cells. Conversely, co-culturing also enhanced the proliferation and mobility of SVF cells, providing further evidence that SVF cells may be recruited by cancer cells and that their relationship may be bilateral. Thus, this study provides a good foundation for examining the cellular contributions of adipose tissue to cancer. By further characterizing the mechanism for the association between obesity and cancer development, we could find novel targets to decrease the progress of cancer development in at-risk obese individuals.

ovarian cancer, Obesity, adipose tissue, progenitor cells