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3D Co-cultured Endothelial Cells and Monocytes Promoted Cancer Stem Cells’ Stemness and Malignancy

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journal contribution
posted on 15.12.2020, 21:45 by Shupei Qiao, Yufang Zhao, Hui Tian, Ishara Manike, Liang Ma, Hongji Yan, Weiming Tian
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are self-renewing and constitute the primary cause of cancer relapse post-cancer therapy. The CSC niche is composed of various nonmalignant stromal cells that support CSCs’ survival during cancer chemoradiotherapy. Understanding the cross-talk between CSCs and stromal cells could pave the way for developing therapeutic strategies to eradicate CSCs. Traditionally, CSC research has been relying on animal models, which can give rise to complications and poor translation in clinical practice. An efficient model to co-culture CSCs and stromal cells is urgently needed. Hence, we leveraged our expertise in enriching CSCs from in vitro cell lines with a 3D alginate-based platform, as reported previously. We established a 3D co-culture system that allowed us to study the interactions between stromal cells and CSCs over an extended period. We showed that the self-renewal capacity and stemness of CSCs were significantly enhanced when co-cultured with 3D cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) or a human monocyte cell line (THP1). Strikingly, the expression of MDR1 in 3D co-cultured CSCs was upregulated, leading to enhanced chemotoxic drug tolerance. We suggest that our in vitro co-culture model can impact CSC research and clinical practice when the goal is to develop therapeutics that target and eradicate CSCs by targeting stromal cells.