Cancer treatment by conventional radiotherapy is limited by normal tissue side-effects. Fibroblasts as "non-target" stromal cell type are considered as strong promoter of tumor growth and for developing a therapy resistant phenotype. Regarding application of novel molecular therapeutics combined with radiotherapy, evaluation of a specific targeted molecule in both tumor and normal cells is mandatory for efficacy and tolerability assessment. Previous work showed integrin-linked kinase (ILK), a mediator of beta-integrin signals and putative phosphorylator of AKT, as potent anti-survival regulator in human cancer cell lines.
To evaluate the role of ILK in normal fibroblast survival, ILK-wild-type (ILK(fl/fl)), ILK(-/-) and ILK(N-terminal) and ILK(C-terminal) domain expressing fibroblasts were irradiated with X-rays on different substrata or in three-dimensional laminin-rich extracellular matrix (lrECM).
On control substrata, ILK-deficient and ILK-mutant fibroblasts showed significant increase in radiation survival relative to ILK-wild-type cells. This effect was compensated by growth on ECM proteins and in 3D lrECM. ILK regulated AKT activity in a phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)-dependent manner. Upon PI3K inhibition, only ILK-wild-type fibroblasts showed significant radiosensitization.
These findings obtained in 3D cell cultures suggest ILK to be dispensable for the radiation survival response of normal fibroblasts. However, targeting the PI3K/AKT signaling axis pharmacologically might be critical for survival of normal fibroblasts exposed to ionizing radiation.
"Studies using ex vivo cell cultures show the loss of morphological and functional properties in an artificial environment such as cell culture plastic as compared to ECM scaffolds [38, 69, 71]. Interesting studies in diverse tumor cell lines and normal cells showed that 3D growth in a matrix modifies gene and protein expression, cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, and metabolism in comparison to conventional 2D monolayer cell cultures [40, 42, 43, 46, 48, 116]. In line with these findings, osteosarcoma cells are protected against doxorubicin treatment  and head and neck and non-small-cell lung cancer cells display a reduced radiation sensitivity when grown in a 3D matrix in contrast to 2D [11, 40]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer resistance to therapy presents an ongoing and unsolved obstacle, which has clear impact on patient's survival. In order to address this problem, novel in vitro models have been established and are currently developed that enable data generation in a more physiological context. For example, extracellular-matrix- (ECM-) based scaffolds lead to the identification of integrins and integrin-associated signaling molecules as key promoters of cancer cell resistance to radio- and chemotherapy as well as modern molecular agents. In this paper, we discuss the dynamic nature of the interplay between ECM, integrins, cytoskeleton, nuclear matrix, and chromatin organization and how this affects the response of tumor cells to various kinds of cytotoxic anticancer agents.
"In addition to the use of 3D cell culture models in tissue engineering , ,  and studies on embryonic development and physiology , 3D cell cultures are increasingly employed in cancer research , , , , , . In the vast majority of cases, tumor cell lines of different origin show an enhanced resistance to radio- and chemotherapy in a 3D environment indicative by increased clonogenicity and decreased apoptosis , , , , , , , , , . Apart from a significant impact of integrin-mediated cell-ECM interactions , a complex interplay of biochemical signaling pathways and biophysical/mechanotransduction-related factors is thought to confer this enhanced tumor cell resistance whose underlying mechanisms remain to be determined both on the gene and on the protein level . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell morphology determines cell behavior, signal transduction, protein-protein interaction, and responsiveness to external stimuli. In cancer, these functions profoundly contribute to resistance mechanisms to radio- and chemotherapy. With regard to this aspect, this study compared the genome wide gene expression in exponentially growing cell lines from different tumor entities, lung carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, under more physiological three-dimensional (3D) versus monolayer cell culture conditions. Whole genome cDNA microarray analysis was accomplished using the Affymetrix HG U133 Plus 2.0 gene chip. Significance analysis of microarray (SAM) and t-test analysis revealed significant changes in gene expression profiles of 3D relative to 2D cell culture conditions. These changes affected the extracellular matrix and were mainly associated with biological processes like tissue development, cell adhesion, immune system and defense response in contrast to terms related to DNA repair, which lacked significant alterations. Selected genes were verified by semi-quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting. Additionally, we show that 3D growth mediates a significant increase in tumor cell radio- and chemoresistance relative to 2D. Our findings show significant gene expression differences between 3D and 2D cell culture systems and indicate that cellular responsiveness to external stress such as ionizing radiation and chemotherapeutics is essentially influenced by differential expression of genes involved in the regulation of integrin signaling, cell shape and cell-cell contact.
PLoS ONE 04/2012; 7(4):e34279. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0034279 · 3.23 Impact Factor
"Consequently, the usage of a 3D lrECM model, as performed here, pinpoints the complexity of signaling events and protein–protein interactions and the consideration that such models provide valuable and more realistic insights into molecular mechanisms  . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Resistance of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) to chemo- and radiotherapy is a major obstacle. The integral membrane protein Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) has been suggested as a potent target in human pancreatic carcinoma cells.
Human pancreatic tumor cells were examined in a three-dimensional (3D) cell culture model with regard to clonogenic survival, apoptosis, radiogenic DNA-double strand breaks and protein expression and phosphorylation under siRNA-mediated knockdown of Cav-1 without and in combination with irradiation (X-rays, 0-6Gy). Immunohistochemistry was used to assess Cav-1 expression in biopsies from patients with PDAC.
Tumor cells in PDAC showed significantly higher Cav-1 expression relative to tumor stroma. Cav-1 knockdown significantly reduced beta1 integrin expression and Akt phosphorylation, induced Caspase 3- and Caspase 8-dependent apoptosis and enhanced the radiosensitivity of 3D cell cultures. While cell cycling and Cav-1 promoter activity remained stable, Cav-1 knockdown-induced radiosensitization correlated with elevated numbers of residual DNA-double strand breaks.
Our data strongly support the concept of Cav-1 as a potent target in pancreatic carcinoma cells due to radiosensitization and Cav-1 overexpression in tumor cells of PDAC. 3D cell cultures are powerful and useful tools for the testing of novel targeting strategies to optimize conventional radio- and chemotherapy regimes for PDAC.
Radiotherapy and Oncology 09/2009; 92(3):362-70. DOI:10.1016/j.radonc.2009.07.004 · 4.36 Impact Factor
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