We sought to characterize the function of bone marrow stromal cell (BMSC) populations in tumor progression. Because this function may depend on the cell-lineage and mouse strain heterogeneity, we first characterized ex vivo the BMSCs harvested from C57BL/6 versus FVB mice and established their in vivo function in tumor growth and metastasis experiments. All plastic-adherent BMSCs expressed platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRβ) and stem cell antigen 1 (Sca1), consistent with a mesenchymal precursor phenotype, as well as CD80. Moreover, these BMSCs were capable of differentiation along mesenchymal lineage into adipocytes, osteoblasts, chondrocytes or myofibroblasts. However, further phenotypic analysis detected a distinct populations of myeloid (CD11b(+)) precursor cells amongst the ex vivo expanded BMSCs -with specific surface marker phenotypes and gene expression pattern. When co-implanted with metastatic cancer cells, all the BMSCs persisted and integrated into tumor stroma, but only myeloid BMSCs significantly promoted tumor growth and metastasis. These data demonstrate the differential effect of BMSCs sub-populations on tumor progression. These results may have important implications for anti-tumor therapy and for the use of mesenchymal BMSCs as cell-based therapies.
Keywords: Myeloid; bone marrow-derived cells; mesenchymal; metastasis; tumor.