Regarding aesthetics and long-term stability, cell-assisted lipotransfer is a promising method for breast reconstruction. Here, autologous fat grafts enriched with autologous adipose-derived stem cells are transferred. However, as adipose-derived stem cells secrete high amounts of growth factors, potential risks of tumor reactivation remain. In this study, influences of adipose-derived stem cells on inflammatory breast cancer cells were evaluated in a direct co-culture system.
Human adipose-derived stem cells were isolated and cultivated either alone or in a direct co-culture with the inflammatory breast carcinoma cell line T47D. At different time points, cell morphology was observed by scanning electron microscopy, cell membranes were stained by immunofluorescence, and gene expression was analyzed by real-time polymerase chain reaction.
In co-cultures, T47D breast carcinoma cells showed tumorsphere-typical growth surrounded by a monolayer of adipose-derived stem cells. Direct cell-to-cell contacts could be observed between the two different cell types. Immunofluorescence revealed vesicular exchange and fusion between carcinoma cells and adipose-derived stem cells. Expression levels of transcriptional genes for typical malignancy markers were substantially higher in co-cultures compared with single cultures.
Direct intercellular contact between carcinoma cells and adipose-derived stem cells by means of exosomal vesicular exchange was revealed. Breast cancer cells displayed a change towards a more malignant phenotype associated with higher rates of metastasis and worsened prognosis. As cell-assisted lipotransfer is often performed after breast cancer surgery, transfer of adipose-derived stem cells might lead to deterioration of prognosis in case of recurrence as it has been described for inflammatory breast cancer.