IJMS | Free Full-Text | High Adenosine Extracellular Levels Induce Glioblastoma Aggressive Traits Modulating the Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Secretome


Glioblastoma is an aggressive, fast-growing brain tumor influenced by the composition of the tumor microenvironment (TME) in which mesenchymal stromal cell (MSCs) play a pivotal role. Adenosine (ADO), a purinergic signal molecule, can reach up to high micromolar concentrations in TME. The activity of specific adenosine receptor subtypes on glioma cells has been widely explored, as have the effects of MSCs on tumor progression. However, the effects of high levels of ADO on glioma aggressive traits are still unclear as is its role in cancer cells-MSC cross-talk. Herein, we first studied the role of extracellular Adenosine (ADO) on isolated human U343MG cells as a glioblastoma cellular model, finding that at high concentrations it was able to prompt the gene expression of Snail and ZEB1, which regulate the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) process, even if a complete transition was not reached. These effects were mediated by the induction of ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Additionally, ADO affected isolated bone marrow derived MSCs (BM-MSCs) by modifying the pattern of secreted inflammatory cytokines. Then, the conditioned medium (CM) of BM-MSCs stimulated with ADO and a co-culture system were used to investigate the role of extracellular ADO in GBM–MSC cross-talk. The CM promoted the increase of glioma motility and induced a partial phenotypic change of glioblastoma cells. These effects were maintained when U343MG cells and BM-MSCs were co-cultured. In conclusion, ADO may affect glioma biology directly and through the modulation of the paracrine factors released by MSCs overall promoting a more aggressive phenotype. These results point out the importance to deeply investigate the role of extracellular soluble factors in the glioma cross-talk with other cell types of the TME to better understand its pathological mechanisms.

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