Breast cancer stem cells are regulated by mesenchymal stem cells through cytokine networks

Suling Liu, Christophe Ginestier, Sing J. Ou, Shawn G. Clouthier, Shivani H. Patel, Florence Monville, Hasan Korkaya, Amber Heath, Julie Dutcher, Celina G. Kleer, Younghun Jung, Gabriela Dontu, Russell Taichman, Max S. Wicha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

410 Scopus citations


We have used in vitro and mouse xenograft models to examine the interaction between breast cancer stem cells (CSC) and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). We show that both of these cell populations are organized in a cellular hierarchy in which primitive aldehyde dehydrogenase expressing mesenchymal cells regulate breast CSCs through cytokine loops involving IL6 and CXCL7. In NOD/SCID mice, labeled MSCs introduced into the tibia traffic to sites of growing breast tumor xenografts where they accelerated tumor growth by increasing the breast CSC population. With immunochemistry, we identified MSC-CSC niches in these tumor xenografts as well as in frozen sections from primary human breast cancers. Bone marrow- derived MSCs may accelerate human breast tumor growth by generating cytokine networks that regulate the CSC population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-624
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Liu, S., Ginestier, C., Ou, S. J., Clouthier, S. G., Patel, S. H., Monville, F., Korkaya, H., Heath, A., Dutcher, J., Kleer, C. G., Jung, Y., Dontu, G., Taichman, R., & Wicha, M. S. (2011). Breast cancer stem cells are regulated by mesenchymal stem cells through cytokine networks. Cancer Research, 71(2), 614-624.