Preconditioned endothelial progenitor cells reduce formation of melanoma metastases through SPARC-driven cell-cell interactions and endocytosis

Cancer Res. 2011 Jul 15;71(14):4748-57. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2449. Epub 2011 May 26.


Tumor progression is associated with the release of signaling substances from the primary tumor into the bloodstream. Tumor-derived cytokines are known to promote the mobilization and the recruitment of cells from the bone marrow, including endothelial progenitor cells (EPC). Here, we examined whether such paracrine influence could also influence the capacity of EPC to interfere with circulating metastatic cells. We therefore consecutively injected EPC prestimulated by tumor-conditioned medium (EPC-CM) and luciferase-expressing B16 melanoma cells to mice. A net decrease in metastases spreading (vs. nonstimulated EPC) led us to carry out a 2-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) proteomic study to identify possible mediators of EPC-driven protection. Among 33 proteins exhibiting significant changes in expression, secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) presented the highest induction after EPC exposure to CM. We then showed that contrary to control EPC, SPARC-silenced EPC were not able to reduce the extent of metastases when injected with B16 melanoma cells. Using adhesion tests and the hanging drop assay, we further documented that cell-cell interactions between EPC-CM and melanoma cells were promoted in a SPARC-dependent manner. This interaction led to the engulfment of melanoma cells by EPC-CM, a process prevented by SPARC silencing and mimicked by recombinant SPARC. Finally, we showed that contrary to melanoma cells, the prometastatic human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB231-D3H2 reduced SPARC expression in human EPC and stimulated metastases spreading. Our findings unravel the influence of tumor cells on EPC phenotypes through a SPARC-driven accentuation of macrophagic capacity associated with limitations to metastatic spread.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Experimental / pathology
  • Melanoma, Experimental / secondary*
  • Melanoma, Experimental / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Osteonectin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Osteonectin / biosynthesis
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Osteonectin