Background: Gastric cancer (GC) patients frequently develop peritoneal metastasis; however, the underlying mechanism remains unknown. We hypothesised that omental adipocytes (OmAd) trigger GC cells towards malignant activity to induce peritoneal metastasis.
Methods: We analysed interactions among human GC cells, endothelial cells and OmAd using a 3D co-culture system. We also employed a multipronged animal study, including subcutaneous and orthotopic tumours, and humanised omental adipose tissue models. Urinary levels of CXCL2 were analysed in human GC patients with and without peritoneal metastasis.
Results: Conditioned media derived from OmAd (OmAd-CM) promoted the proliferation, migration and capacity to induce angiogenesis of GC cells through AKT phosphorylation and VEGFA overexpression, whereas silencing CXCL2 in OmAd cancelled OmAd-induced effects. In an orthotopic tumour model using SCID mice, omentectomy suppressed GC growth and peritoneal dissemination, and reduced serum levels of CXCL2. OmAd promoted GC growth in a humanised omental adipose tissue model using NSG mice, but silencing CXCL2 in OmAd cancelled OmAd-induced tumour growth. Finally, urinary levels of CXCL2 were significantly higher in GC patients with peritoneal metastasis than in those without.
Conclusion: Omental adipocytes trigger GC cells to an aggressive phenotype through CXCL2 secretion, which induces angiogenesis followed by cell growth and peritoneal metastasis.