Dissection of stromal and cancer cell-derived signals in melanoma xenografts before and after treatment with DMXAA

Br J Cancer. 2012 Mar 13;106(6):1134-47. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.63.


Background: The non-malignant cells of the tumour stroma have a critical role in tumour biology. Studies dissecting the interplay between cancer cells and stromal cells are required to further our understanding of tumour progression and methods of intervention. For proof-of-principle of a multi-modal approach to dissect the differential effects of treatment on cancer cells and stromal cells, we analysed the effects of the stromal-targeting agent 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid on melanoma xenografts.

Methods: Flow cytometry and multi-colour immunofluorescence staining was used to analyse leukocyte numbers in xenografts. Murine-specific and human-specific multiplex cytokine panels were used to quantitate cytokines produced by stromal and melanoma cells, respectively. Human and mouse Affymetrix microarrays were used to separately identify melanoma cell-specific and stromal cell-specific gene expression.

Results: 5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid activated pro-inflammatory signalling pathways and cytokine expression from both stromal and cancer cells, leading to neutrophil accumulation and haemorrhagic necrosis and a delay in tumour re-growth of 26 days in A375 melanoma xenografts.

Conclusion: 5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid and related analogues may potentially have utility in the treatment of melanoma. The experimental platform used allowed distinction between cancer cells and stromal cells and can be applied to investigate other tumour models and anti-cancer agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Nude
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Stromal Cells / drug effects
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation
  • Xanthones / pharmacology*
  • Xanthones / therapeutic use
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Xanthones
  • vadimezan
  • RAG-1 protein