Nonresolving chronic inflammation at the neoplastic site is consistently associated with promoting tumor progression and poor patient outcomes. However, many aspects behind the mechanisms that establish this tumor-promoting inflammatory microenvironment remain undefined. Using bladder cancer (BC) as a model, we found that CD14-high cancer cells express higher levels of numerous inflammation mediators and form larger tumors compared with CD14-low cells. CD14 antigen is a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked glycoprotein and has been shown to be critically important in the signaling pathways of Toll-like receptor (TLR). CD14 expression in this BC subpopulation of cancer cells is required for increased cytokine production and increased tumor growth. Furthermore, tumors formed by CD14-high cells are more highly vascularized with higher myeloid cell infiltration. Inflammatory factors produced by CD14-high BC cells recruit and polarize monocytes and macrophages to acquire immune-suppressive characteristics. In contrast, CD14-low BC cells have a higher baseline cell division rate than CD14-high cells. Importantly, CD14-high cells produce factors that further increase the proliferation of CD14-low cells. Collectively, we demonstrate that CD14-high BC cells may orchestrate tumor-promoting inflammation and drive tumor cell proliferation to promote tumor growth.
Keywords: CD14; bladder cancer; inflammation; microenvironment.