Hanchen Li

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, United States

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Publications (24)217.71 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Stromal cells and the extracellular environment are vital to human tumors, influencing growth and response to therapy. Human tumor cell lines lack stroma and transplantation into immunodeficient mice does not allow meaningful analyses of the effects of stroma on tumor cell growth. Studies of xenografts of primary human tumor fragments in nude mice and in early scid mouse models were constrained by poor tumor growth accompanied by host-versus-graft reactivity, dramatically altering tumor architecture and tumor microenvironment. In contrast, severely immunodeficient NOD-scid and NOD-Rag1 (null) strains carrying the IL2rg (null) mutation (NSG and NRG) support the growth of many types of human primary tumors. We compared the take rate, growth and architectural preservation of 10 clinically distinct primary human colon cancers in NOD-scid, NOD-Rag1 (null) , NSG and NRG mice and determined the contribution of mouse and human cells to the stroma during tumor proliferation and expansion in secondary hosts and tumor response to treatment with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). NSG and NRG mice more readily support growth of human primary colon tumor fragments than do NOD-scid, NOD-Rag1 (null) mice and maintain tumor architectural integrity in the primary recipient and through subsequent transplant generations. The human colon tumors were responsive to treatment with 5-FU. Human stromal cells in the primary graft were replaced by mouse-derived fibroblasts in a dynamic process during subsequent passages. Human colon cancer xenografts propagated in NSG and NRG mice maintain structural fidelity while replacing human stromal cells with murine stromal cells.
    Digestive Diseases and Sciences 05/2014; · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Helicobacter infection is the main risk factor in developing gastric cancer. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are non-hematopoietic stromal cells, which are able to differentiate into different cell lineages. MSC contribute to cancer development by forming the tumor directly, contributing to the microenvironment, or by promoting angiogenesis and metastasis. CXCR4/SDF-1 axis is used by MSC in trafficking, homing, and engraftment at chronic inflammation sites, and plays an important role in tumorigenesis. To determine if CXCR4 receptor has a role in MSC contribution to the development of Helicobacter-mediated gastric cancer. SDF-1 and CXCR4 expression in mouse gastric mucosa in the setting of acute and chronic inflammation was measured using RT-PCR. Mouse culture-adapted MSC express CXCR4. Wild-type C57BL/6 mice infected with Helicobacter felis for 6 months or controls were given IV injections of CXCR4 knock-down MSC. Animals were followed for another 4 months. Homing of MSC in the stomach was quantified using RT-PCR. MSC differentiation into gastric epithelia lineages was analyzed using immunohistochemistry and fluorescent in situ hybridization. CXCR4 and SDF-1 are both upregulated in the settings of Helicobacter-induced chronic gastric inflammation. CXCR4 is fully required for homing of MSC to the stomach in acute gastric inflammation, but only partially in Helicobacter-induced gastric cancer. MSC lead to gastric intraepithelial neoplasia as early as 10 months of Helicobacter infection. Our results show that MSC have a tumorigenic effect by promoting an accelerated form of gastric cancer in mice. The engraftment of MSC in chronic inflammation is only partially CXCR4-dependent.
    Digestive Diseases and Sciences 07/2013; · 2.26 Impact Factor
  • Gastroenterology 01/2011; 140(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
  • Gastroenterology 01/2011; 140(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neoplastic epithelia may remain dormant and clinically unapparent in human patients for decades. Multiple risk factors including mutations in tumor cells or the stromal cells may affect the switch from dormancy to malignancy. Gene mutations, including p53 mutations, within the stroma of tumors are associated with a worse clinical prognosis; however, it is not known if these stromal mutations can promote tumors in genetically at-risk tissue. To address this question, Apc(Min/+) and Apc(Min/+) Rag2(-/-) mice, which have a predilection to mammary carcinoma (as well as wild-type (wt) mice), received mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) with mutant p53 (p53MSC) transferred via tail vein injection. In the wt mouse, p53MSC circulated in the periphery and homed to the marrow cavity where they could be recovered up to a year later without apparent effect on the health of the mouse. No mammary tumors were found. However, in mice carrying the Apc(Min/+) mutation, p53MSC homed to mammary tissue and significantly increased the incidence of mammary carcinoma. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha-dependent factors elaborated from mesenchymal cells converted quiescent epithelia into clinically apparent disease. The increased cancer phenotype was completely preventable with neutralization of TNF-alpha or by transfer of CD4(+) regulatory T cells from immune competent donors, demonstrating that immune competency to regulate inflammation was sufficient to maintain neoplastic dormancy even in the presence of oncogenic epithelial and stromal mutations. The significant synergy between host immunity and mesenchymal cells identified here may restructure treatments to restore an anticancer microenvironment.
    Stem cells and development 03/2010; 19(8):1153-66. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The notion that tumors contain a population of cells termed cancer stem cells, or cancer initiating cells has been gaining momentum over the past several years. It is postulated that much like a normal organ in the body, tumors contain a population of stem cells which are responsible for driving tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. This becomes of paramount clinical importance because our present therapies often times shrink tumors, but do not prevent their recurrence or metastatic spread. This behavior of tumors suggests that a population of cells within the tumor capable of driving tumor growth is insensitive to our current therapies and survives to reestablish disease. Therefore, understanding the biology of the cancer stem cell which is believed responsible for this tumor re-growth, will allow targeted therapy to better treat cancers. This chapter reviews the cancer stem cell hypotheses, and investigates the potential sources for the cancer stem cell. KeywordsStem cell–Stem cell niche–Stroma–Inflammation–Cancer associated fibroblasts
    12/2009: pages 235-250;
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    ABSTRACT: Analysis of clinical colon cancer specimens show alterations in the CD95 (Fas Ag/Fas L) pathway as tumors progress from local to metastatic disease, suggesting that this pathway may play a role in invasive behavior of colon cancer. However, direct causality between these alterations and clinical disease progression has not been shown. Surgically resected metastatic colon cancer samples were evaluated for Fas Ag/L and apoptosis. Alterations in the Fas-signaling pathway found in human samples were recreated through a series of staged transfection experiments in the MC38 mouse colon cancer cell line and the effects on growth tested in vitro and in vivo. Expression of FLICE-like inhibitory protein confers apoptosis resistance, increasing the incidence of primary tumors through a survival advantage by avoiding apoptosis and inducing Fas-mediated proliferation. Coexpression of Fas L enables colon cancer cells to metastasize to the liver from local tumors as well as from intravenous injection of cells. MC38-FasL/FLICE-like inhibitory protein colon cancer cells induce apoptosis in hepatocytes via activation of type II Fas Ag signaling, thus creating a niche conducive to tumor growth and fueling their own growth via Fas proliferative signaling. Alterations in the Fas Ag pathway which inhibit apoptosis and increase Fas-mediated proliferation directly increase local colon cancer growth, and enhance metastasis to the liver. Delineating points in the pathway responsible for growth and metastasis will offer targets that may be exploited for therapy.
    Gastroenterology 07/2009; 137(3):934-44, 944.e1-4. · 12.82 Impact Factor
  • Gastroenterology 01/2009; 136(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
  • Gastroenterology 01/2009; 136(5). · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: When cells within the gastric mucosa progress from metaplasia to dysplasia to cancer, they acquire a Fas Ag apoptosis-resistant phenotype. It is unusual to completely abolish the pathway, suggesting other forms of Fas Ag signaling may be important or even necessary for gastric cancer to progress. Little is known about alternate signaling of the Fas Ag pathway in gastric mucosal cells. Using a cell culture model of rat gastric mucosal cells, we show that gastric mucosal cells utilize a type II signaling pathway for apoptosis. Under conditions of low receptor stimulation or under conditions where apoptosis is blocked downstream of the death-inducing signal complex, Fas Ag signaling proceeds toward proliferative signaling. Under conditions favoring proliferative signaling, cFLIP is recruited to the Fas-associated death domain-like interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme at the death-inducing signal complex and activates ERK1/2. ERK1/2 in turn activates NF-kappaB. ERK1/2 stimulates proliferation, whereas NF-kappaB activation results in upregulation of the antiapoptotic protein survivin, further promoting proliferation over apoptosis. These results suggest that factors that inhibit apoptosis confer a growth advantage to the cells beyond the survival advantage of avoiding apoptosis and in effect convert the Fas Ag signaling pathway from a tumor suppressor to a tumor promoter.
    AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 02/2008; 294(1):G263-75. · 3.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aging is the single most common risk factor for cancer. Peripheral and marrow-derived stem cells are long lived and are candidate cells for the cancer-initiating cell. Repeated rounds of replication are likely required for accumulation of the necessary genetic mutations. Based on the facts that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) transform with higher frequency than other cell types, and tumors in aged C57BL/6 mice are frequently fibrosarcomas, we used a genetically tagged bone marrow (BM) transplant model to show that aged mice develop MSC-derived fibrosarcomas. We further show that, with aging, MSCs spontaneously transform in culture and, when placed into our mouse model, recapitulated the naturally occurring fibrosarcomas of the aged mice with gene expression changes and p53 mutation similar to the in vivo model. Spontaneously transformed MSCs contribute directly to the tumor, tumor vasculature, and tumor adipose tissue, recruit additional host BM-derived cells (BMDC) to the area, and fuse with the host BMDC. Unfused transformed MSCs act as the cancer stem cell and are able to form tumors in successive mice, whereas fusion restores a nonmalignant phenotype. These data suggest that MSCs may play a key role in age-related tumors, and fusion with host cells restores a nonmalignant phenotype, thereby providing a mechanism for regulating tumor cell activity.
    Cancer Research 12/2007; 67(22):10889-98. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The tumor microenvironment, composed of non-cancer cells and their stroma, has become recognized as a major factor influencing the growth of cancer. The microenvironment has been implicated in the regulation of cell growth, determining metastatic potential and possibly determining location of metastatic disease, and impacting the outcome of therapy. While the stromal cells are not malignant per se, their role in supporting cancer growth is so vital to the survival of the tumor that they have become an attractive target for chemotherapeutic agents. In this review, we will discuss the various cellular and molecular components of the stromal environment, their effects on cancer cell dynamics, and the rationale and implications of targeting this environment for control of cancer. Additionally, we will emphasize the role of the bone marrow-derived cell in providing cells for the stroma.
    Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 08/2007; 101(4):805-15. · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The initiating molecular events in Helicobacter-induced gastric carcinogenesis are not known. Early in infection, Fas antigen-mediated apoptosis depletes parietal and chief cell populations, leading to architectural distortion. As infection progresses, metaplastic and dysplastic glands appear, which are resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis. These abnormal lineages precede, and are thought to be the precursor lesions of, gastric cancer. Acquisition of an antiapoptotic phenotype before transformation of cells suggests that loss of Fas sensitivity may be an early required trait for gastric cancer. We reasoned that forced Fas-apoptosis resistance would result in earlier and more aggressive gastric cancer in our mouse model. Fas antigen-deficient (lpr) mice or C57BL/6 wild-type mice were irradiated and reconstituted with C57BL/6 marrow forming partial lpr/wt chimera or wt/wt control mice, extending the life span of the lpr and ensuring a competent immune response to Helicobacter felis infection. Infected lpr/wt mice developed gastric cancer as early as 7 months after infection (compared with 15 months in wt/wt mice). At 10 months (90%) and 15 months (100%), mice developed aggressive invasive lesions. This earlier onset and more aggressive histology strongly argues that Fas-apoptosis resistance is an early and important feature of gastric cancer formation.
    Cancer Research 01/2006; 65(23):10912-20. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cells derived from bone marrow are pluripotent, with the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types. Environmental cues dictate differentiation decisions. It should not be surprising then, that abnormal cell environments lead to abnormal differentiation of these cells, and in some cases, malignant transformation. Identifying a role for bone marrow-derived cells in the initiation and progression of cancer allows a dramatic change in the way in which cancer is viewed. Identifying the cell responsible for initiating a tumor offers the exciting possibility of specifically targeting unique aspects of these cells and altering signaling properties for more effective therapeutic approaches.
    Future Oncology 01/2006; 1(6):851-62. · 3.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Escape from normal apoptotic controls is thought to be essential for the development of cancer. During Helicobacter pylori infection, the leading cause of gastric cancer, activation of the Fas antigen (Fas Ag) apoptotic pathway is responsible for early atrophy and tissue loss. As disease progresses, metaplastic and dysplastic glands arise which express Fas Ag but are resistant to apoptosis and are believed to be the precursor cells for adenocarcinoma. In this report, we show that one mechanism of acquired Fas resistance is inhibition of receptor aggregation via a major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII)-mediated, actin-dependent mechanism. For these studies we used the well-described C57BL/6 mouse model of Helicobacter pylori and Helicobacter felis infection. Under normal conditions, Fas Ag is expressed at low levels, and MHCII expression on gastric mucosal cells is negligible. With infection and inflammation, both receptors are upregulated, and 6.1% of gastric mucosal cells express MHCII in combination with Fas Ag. Using the rat gastric mucosal cell line RGM-1 transfected with murine Fas Ag and MHCIIalphabeta chains, we demonstrate that MHCII prevents Fas receptor aggregation and inhibits Fas-mediated signaling through its effects on the actin cytoskeleton. Depolymerization of actin with cytochalasin D allows receptors to aggregate and restores Fas sensitivity. These findings offer one mechanism by which gastric mucosal cells acquire Fas resistance.
    Infection and Immunity 11/2005; 73(10):6311-21. · 4.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The impact of Helicobacter eradication therapy on the progression or regression of gastric lesions is poorly defined. This study examined the effects of eradication therapy on inflammation, atrophy, metaplasia, dysplasia, and cancer progression. C57BL/6 mice were infected with Helicobacter felis and received bacterial eradication therapy after 2, 6, or 12 months of infection. The gastric mucosa was examined at early, mid, and late intervals after eradication and graded for histology, expression pattern of alpha-catenin and beta-catenin, and IQGAP1. Eradication of Helicobacter infection after 2 or 6 months of infection led to a regression of inflammation, restoration of parietal cell mass, and reestablishment of normal architecture. Progression to adenocarcinoma was prevented. Bacterial eradication at 1 year was associated with the reappearance of parietal cells, partial regression of inflammation, and restoration of architecture. Hyperplasia scores significantly improved, and dysplasia did not progress. Infected mice developed antral adenocarcinoma and gastric outlet obstruction by 24 months. Only 30% of the mice receiving bacterial eradication therapy at 12 months developed antral carcinoma. Bacterial eradication at any time during the first year of infection prevented death due to gastric outlet obstruction. The expression pattern of alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and IQGAP1 varied with cell type and paralleled histologic changes. Inflammation, metaplasia, and dysplasia are reversible with early eradication therapy; progression of dysplasia was arrested with eradication therapy given as late as 1 year and prevented gastric cancer-related deaths.
    Gastroenterology 07/2005; 128(7):1937-52. · 12.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epithelial cancers are believed to originate from transformation of tissue stem cells. However, bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs), which are frequently recruited to sites of tissue injury and inflammation, might also represent a potential source of malignancy. We show that although acute injury, acute inflammation, or transient parietal cell loss within the stomach do not lead to BMDC recruitment, chronic infection of C57BL/6 mice with Helicobacter, a known carcinogen, induces repopulation of the stomach with BMDCs. Subsequently, these cells progress through metaplasia and dysplasia to intraepithelial cancer. These findings suggest that epithelial cancers can originate from marrow-derived sources and thus have broad implications for the multistep model of cancer progression.
    Science 12/2004; 306(5701):1568-71. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The host immune response plays a critical role in determining disease manifestations of chronic infections. Inadequate immune response may fail to control infection, although in other cases the specific immune response may be the cause of tissue damage and disease. The majority of patients with chronic infections are infected by more than one organism yet the interaction between multiple active infections is not known, nor is the impact on disease outcome clear. Using the BALB/c strain of mice, we show that Toxoplasma gondii infection in a host infected with Helicobacter felis alters the natural outcome of T. gondii infection, allowing uncontrolled tachyzoite replication and severe organ damage. Survival rates decrease from 95% in T. gondii infection alone to 50% in dual-infected mice. In addition, infection with T. gondii alters the specific H. felis immune response, converting a previously resistant host to a susceptible phenotype. Gastric mucosal IFN-gamma and IL-12 were significantly elevated and IL-10 substantially reduced in dual-infected mice. These changes were associated with severe gastric mucosal inflammation, parietal cell loss, atrophy, and metaplastic cell changes. These data demonstrate the profound interactions between the immune response to unrelated organisms, and suggest these types of interactions my impact clinical disease.
    The Journal of Immunology 10/2004; 173(5):3329-36. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Helicobacter infection is the single most common cause of gastric cancer worldwide. Although infection prevention and eradication of established infection offer the potential for cure, these strategies are neither feasible nor practical for widespread implementation. Patients most at risk need to be identified and targeted for treatment. For disease to occur, bacterial, environmental, and nutritional factors require a genetically susceptible host. Consequently, it is important to understand how the organism interacts with the host to cause disease. Only through an understanding of what places a patient at risk can we hope to identify susceptible patients early enough in disease to have an impact on their outcome. The immune response is the single most important determinant of disease. Single nucleotide polymorphisms within the promoter region of several critical proinflammatory genes dramatically increase the risk of Helicobacter-associated gastric cancer. Additionally, environmental and dietary factors may modulate the immune response or directly influence key apoptotic and proliferative signaling cascades to alter disease presentation. Lastly, concurrent disease states may have a dramatic impact on the host response to Helicobacter infection and influence disease. An understanding of the immune signaling pathways responsible for disease and the ways in which environmental risk factors influence these pathways will allow identification of populations that are most at risk and targeted prevention and treatment strategies.
    Current Gastroenterology Reports 01/2004; 5(6):459-67.
  • Gastroenterology 01/2003; 124(4). · 12.82 Impact Factor