Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer in the Caucasian population worldwide, having a propensity for invasion, local recurrence and metastasis. Stromal cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are suspected to play an important role in SCC carcinogenesis. In this study, we characterized CAFs isolated from primary cutaneous SCCs and compared them to normal fibroblasts (NFs) isolated from healthy dermis. Human skin CAFs in monolayers displayed different morphology, increased proliferation and migration compared to NFs. CAFs caused strong contraction of collagen matrices in which they were seeded and released high levels of the extracellular matrix component pro-collagen I. CAFs decreased proliferation and differentiation in the epidermis of human skin equivalents (HSEs) seeded with SCC cell lines, without affecting basement membrane composition. Finally, CAFs significantly increased invasion and dermal-epidermal detachment of SCC cell lines SCC-12B2 and SCC-13, respectively, when cultured in HSEs. These distinct features of CAFs point out a specific role in cutaneous SCC development.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.