The Blockade of Tumoral IL1β-Mediated Signaling in Normal Colonic Fibroblasts Sensitizes Tumor Cells to Chemotherapy and Prevents Inflammatory CAF Activation

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 7;22(9):4960. doi: 10.3390/ijms22094960.


Heterotypic interactions between newly transformed cells and normal surrounding cells define tumor's fate in incipient carcinomas. Once homeostasis has been lost, normal resident fibroblasts become carcinoma-associated fibroblasts, conferring protumorogenic properties on these normal cells. Here we describe the IL1β-mediated interplay between cancer cells and normal colonic myofibroblasts (NCFs), which bestows differential sensitivity to cytotoxic drugs on tumor cells. We used NCFs, their conditioned media (CM), and cocultures with tumor cells to characterize the IL1β-mediated crosstalk between both cell types. We silenced IL1β in tumor cells to demonstrate that such cells do not exert an influence on NCFs inflammatory phenotype. Our results shows that IL1β is overexpressed in cocultured tumor cells. IL1β enables paracrine signaling in myofibroblasts, converting them into inflammatory-CAFs (iCAF). IL1β-stimulated-NCF-CM induces migration and differential sensitivity to oxaliplatin in colorectal tumor cells. Such chemoprotective effect has not been evidenced for TGFβ1-driven NCFs. IL1β induces the loss of a myofibroblastic phenotype in NCFs and acquisition of iCAF traits. In conclusion, IL1β-secreted by cancer cells modify surrounding normal fibroblasts to confer protumorogenic features on them, particularly tolerance to cytotoxic drugs. The use of IL1β-blocking agents might help to avoid the iCAF traits acquisition and consequently to counteract the protumorogenic actions these cells.

Keywords: inflammatory CAFs; interleukin 1 beta; myofibroblasts; resistance; stroma; tumor microenvironment.

MeSH terms

  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colon / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1