Tumor metastasis to the draining lymph nodes is critical in patient prognosis and is tightly regulated by molecular interactions mediated by lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). The underlying mechanisms remain undefined in the head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). Using HNSCC cells and LECs we determined the mechanisms mediating tumor-lymphatic cross talk. The effects of a pentacyclic triterpenoid, methyl 2-trifluoromethyl-3,11-dioxoolean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CF3DODA-Me), a potent anticancer agent, were studied on cancer-lymphatic interactions. In response to inflammation, LECs induced the chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 9/10/11 chemokines with a concomitant increase in the chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 3 (CXCR3) in tumor cells. CF3DODA-Me showed antiproliferative effects on tumor cells, altered cellular bioenergetics, suppressed matrix metalloproteinases and chemokine receptors, and the induction of CXCL11-CXCR3 axis and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT pathways. Tumor cell migration to LECs was inhibited by blocking CXCL11 whereas recombinant CXCL11 significantly induced tumor migration, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and matrix remodeling. Immunohistochemical analysis of HNSCC tumor arrays showed enhanced expression of CXCR3 and increased lymphatic vessel infiltration. Furthermore, The Cancer Genome Atlas RNA-sequencing data from HNSCC patients also showed a positive correlation between CXCR3 expression and lymphovascular invasion. Collectively, our data suggest a novel mechanism for cross talk between the LECs and HNSCC tumors through the CXCR3-CXCL11 axis and elucidate the role of the triterpenoid CF3DODA-Me in abrogating several of these tumor-promoting pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine