Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a unique and deadly disease with unknown drivers. We hypothesized the inflammatory environment contributes to the IBC phenotype. We used an in vitro co-culture system to investigate interactions between normal and polarized macrophages (RAW 264.7 cell line), bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and IBC cells (SUM 149 and MDA-IBC3). We used an in vivo model that reproduces the IBC phenotype by co-injecting IBC cells with MSCs into the mammary fat pad. Mice were then treated with a macrophage recruitment inhibitor, anti-CSF1. MSC and macrophages grown in co-culture produced higher levels of pro-tumor properties such as enhanced migration and elevated IL-6 secretion. IBC cells co-cultured with educated MSCs also displayed enhanced invasion and mammosphere formation and blocked by anti-IL-6 and statin treatment. The treatment of mice co-injected with IBC cells and MSCs with anti-CSF1 inhibited tumor associated macrophages and inhibited pSTAT3 expression in tumor cells. Anti-CSF1 treated mice also exhibited reduced tumor growth, skin invasion, and local recurrence. Herein we demonstrate reciprocal tumor interactions through IL-6 with cells found in the IBC microenvironment. Our results suggest IL-6 is a mediator of these tumor promoting influences and is important for the IBC induced migration of MSCs.
Keywords: IL-6; inflammatory breast cancer; macrophages; mesenchymal stem cells; statins.