Cytokines secreted by stromal cells in TNBC microenvironment as potential targets for cancer therapy

Marie K. Malone, Karly Smrekar, Sunju Park, Brianna Blakely, Alec Walter, Nicholas Nasta, Jay Park, Michael Considine, Ludmila V. Danilova, Niranjan B. Pandey, Elana J. Fertig, Aleksander S. Popel, Kideok Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), the lack of therapeutic markers and effective targeted therapies result in an incurable metastatic disease associated with a poor prognosis. Crosstalks within the tumor microenvironment (TME), including those between cancer and stromal cells, affect the tumor heterogeneity, growth, and metastasis. Previously, we have demonstrated that IL-6, IL-8, and CCL5 play a significant role in TNBC growth and metastasis. In this study, we performed a systematic analysis of cytokine factors secreted from four stromal components (fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphatic endothelial cells, and blood microvascular endothelial cells) induced by four TNBC cell types. Through bioinformatic analysis, we selected putative candidates of secreted factors from stromal cells, which are involved in EMT activity, cell proliferation, metabolism, and matrisome pathways. Among the candidates, LCN2, GM-CSF, CST3, IL-6, IL-8, and CHI3L1 are ranked highly. Significantly, Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) is upregulated in the crosstalk of stromal cells and four different TNBC cells. We validated the increase of LCN2 secreted from four stromal cells induced by TNBC cells. Using a specific LCN2 antibody, we observed the inhibition of TNBC cell growth and migration. Taken together, these results propose secreted factors as molecular targets to treat TNBC progression via crosstalk with stromal components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-569
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2020


  • TNBC
  • secreted factors
  • stromal cells
  • tumor microenvironment
  • secretome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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