Akt-Activated Endothelium Increases Cancer Cell Proliferation and Resistance to Treatment in Ovarian Cancer Cell Organoids

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 16;23(22):14173. doi: 10.3390/ijms232214173.


Ovarian cancer (OC) is a heterogeneous disease characterized by its late diagnosis (FIGO stages III and IV) and the importance of abdominal metastases often observed at diagnosis. Detached ovarian cancer cells (OCCs) float in ascites and form multicellular spheroids. Here, we developed endothelial cell (EC)-based 3D spheroids to better represent in vivo conditions. When co-cultured in 3D conditions, ECs and OCCs formed organized tumor angiospheres with a core of ECs surrounded by proliferating OCCs. We established that Akt and Notch3/Jagged1 pathways played a role in angiosphere formation and peritoneum invasion. In patients' ascites we found angiosphere-like structures and demonstrated in patients' specimens that tumoral EC displayed Akt activation, which supports the importance of Akt activation in ECs in OC. Additionally, we demonstrated the importance of FGF2, Pentraxin 3 (PTX3), PD-ECGF and TIMP-1 in angiosphere organization. Finally, we confirmed the role of Notch3/Jagged1 in OCC-EC crosstalk relating to OCC proliferation and during peritoneal invasion. Our results support the use of multicellular spheroids to better model tumoral and stromal interaction. Such models could help decipher the complex pathways playing critical roles in metastasis spread and predict tumor response to chemotherapy or anti-angiogenic treatment.

Keywords: 3D model; cell–cell interactions; endothelial cells; ovarian cancer; tumor microenvironment.

MeSH terms

  • Ascites / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Endothelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Organoids / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt* / metabolism


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt