Stromal integrin α11-deficiency reduces interstitial fluid pressure and perturbs collagen structure in triple-negative breast xenograft tumors
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Cancer progression is influenced by a pro-tumorigenic microenvironment. The aberrant tumor stroma with increased collagen deposition, contractile fibroblasts and dysfunctional vessels has a major impact on the interstitial fluid pressure (PIF) in most solid tumors. An increased tumor PIF is a barrier to the transport of interstitial fluid into and within the tumor. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that regulate pressure homeostasis can lead to new insight into breast tumor progression, invasion and response to therapy. The collagen binding integrin α11β1 is upregulated during myofibroblast differentiation and expressed on fibroblasts in the tumor stroma. As a collagen organizer and a probable link between contractile fibroblasts and the complex collagen network in tumors, integrin α11β1 could be a potential regulator of tumor PIF. Methods: We investigated the effect of stromal integrin α11-deficiency on pressure homeostasis, collagen organization and tumor growth using orthotopic and ectopic triple-negative breast cancer xenografts (MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468) in wild type and integrin α11-deficient mice. PIF was measured by the wick-in-needle technique, collagen by Picrosirius Red staining and electron microscopy, and uptake of radioactively labeled 5FU by microdialysis. Further, PIF in heterospheroids composed of MDA-MB-231 cells and wild type or integrin α11-deficient fibroblasts was measured by micropuncture. Results: Stromal integrin α11-deficiency decreased PIF in both the orthotopic breast cancer models. A concomitant perturbed collagen structure was seen, with fewer aligned and thinner fibrils. Integrin α11-deficiency also impeded MDA-MB-231 breast tumor growth, but no effect was observed on drug uptake. No effects were seen in the ectopic model. By investigating the isolated effect of integrin α11-positive fibroblasts on MDA-MB-231 cells in vitro, we provide evidence that PIF regulation was mediated by integrin α11-positive fibroblasts. Conclusion: We hereby show the importance of integrin α11β1 in pressure homeostasis in triple-negative breast tumors, indicating a new role for integrin α11β1 in the tumor microenvironment. Our data suggest that integrin α11β1 has a pro-tumorigenic effect on triple-negative breast cancer growth in vivo. The significance of the local microenvironment is shown by the different effects of integrin α11β1 in the orthotopic and ectopic models, underlining the importance of choosing an appropriate preclinical model.