Background: Changes in fibronectin (Fn) matrix remodeling contribute to mammary tumor angiogenesis and are related to altered behavior of adipogenic stromal cells; yet, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear due in part to a lack of reductionist model systems that allow the inherent complexity of cell-derived extracellular matrices (ECMs) to be deciphered. In particular, breast cancer-associated adipogenic stromal cells not only enhance the composition, quantity, and rigidity of deposited Fn, but also partially unfold these matrices. However, the specific effect of Fn conformation on tumor angiogenesis is undefined.
Methods: Decellularized matrices and a conducting polymer device consisting of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) doped with poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) were used to examine the effect of Fn conformation on the behavior of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Changes in cell adhesion and proangiogenic capability were tested via cell counting and by quantification of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion, respectively. Integrin-blocking antibodies were utilized to examine varied integrin specificity as a potential mechanism.
Results: Our findings suggest that tumor-associated partial unfolding of Fn decreases adhesion while enhancing VEGF secretion by breast cancer-associated adipogenic precursor cells, and that altered integrin specificity may underlie these changes.
Conclusions and general significance: These results not only have important implications for our understanding of tumorigenesis, but also enhance knowledge of cell-ECM interactions that may be harnessed for other applications including advanced tissue engineering approaches. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Organic Bioelectronics - Novel Applications in Biomedicine.
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