Selective sensitiveness of mesenchymal stem cells to shock waves leads to anticancer effect in human cancer cell co-cultures

Federica Foglietta, Serena Duchi, Roberto Canaparo, Greta Varchi, Enrico Lucarelli, Barbara Dozza, Loredana Serpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Aim Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) possess the distinctive feature of homing in on and engrafting into the tumor stroma making their therapeutic applications in cancer treatment very promising. Research into new effectors and external stimuli, which can selectively trigger the release of cytotoxic species from MSC toward the cancer cells, significantly raises their potential. Main methods Shock waves (SW) have recently gained recognition for their ability to induce specific biological effects, such as the local generation of cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) in a non-invasive and tunable manner. We thus investigate whether MSC are able to generate ROS and, in turn, affect cancer cell growth when in co-culture with human glioblastoma (U87) or osteosarcoma (U2OS) cells and exposed to SW. Key findings MSC were found to be the cell line that was most sensitive to SW treatment as shown by SW-induced ROS production and cytotoxicity. Notably, U87 and U2OS cancer cell growth was unaffected by SW exposure. However, significant decreases in cancer cell growth, 1.8 fold for U87 and 2.3 fold for U2OS, were observed 24 h after the SW treatment of MSC co-cultures with cancer cells. The ROS production induced in MSC by SW exposure was then responsible for lipid peroxidation and cell death in U87 and U2OS cells co-cultured with MSC. Significance This experiment highlights the unique ability of MSC to generate ROS upon SW treatment and induce the cell death of co-cultured cancer cells. SW might therefore be proposed as an innovative tool for MSC-mediated cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-35
Number of pages8
JournalLife sciences
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017


  • Cancer
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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