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Open Access Research article

Role of malignant ascites on human mesothelial cells and their gene expression profiles

Isabelle Matte1, Denis Lane1, Dimcho Bachvarov2, Claudine Rancourt1 and Alain Piché1*

Author Affiliations

1 Département de Microbiologie et Infectiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Sherbrooke, 3001, 12ième Avenue Nord, Sherbrooke, Québec, J1H 5N4, Canada

2 Cancer Research Centre, Hôpital L’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, 9 rue McMahon, Québec, G1R 2J6, Canada

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:288  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-288

Published: 24 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Malignant ascites is often present at diagnostic in women with advanced ovarian cancer (OC) and its presence is associated with a worse outcome. Human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs) are key components of malignant ascites. Although the interplay between HPMCs and OC cells is believed to be critical for tumor progression, it has not been well characterized. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of ascites on HPMCs and clarify the role of HPMCs in OC progression.

Methods

Human OC ascites and benign peritoneal fluids were assessed for their ability to stimulate HPMC proliferation. Conditioned medium from ascites- and benign fluid-stimulated HPMCs were compared for their ability to attenuate apoptosis induced by TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). We conducted a comparative analysis of global expression changes in ascites-stimulated HPMCs using Agilent oligonucleotide microarrays.

Results

As compared to benign peritoneal fluids, malignant ascites stimulated the proliferation of HPMCs. TRAIL-induced apoptosis was attenuated in OC cells exposed to conditioned medium from ascites-stimulated HPMCs as compared to OC cells exposed to conditioned medium from benign fluid-stimulated HPMCs. A total of 649 genes were differentially expressed in ascites-stimulated HPMCs. Based on a ratio of more than 1.5-fold and a P < 0.05, 484 genes were up-regulated and 165 genes were down-regulated in ascites-exposed HPMCs. Stimulation of HPMCs with OC ascites resulted in differential expression of genes mainly associated with the regulation of cell growth and proliferation, cell death, cell cycle and cell assembly and organization, compared to benign peritoneal fluids. Top networks up-regulated by OC ascites included Akt and NF-κB survival pathways whereas vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway was down-regulated.

Conclusions

The results of this study not only provide evidence supporting the importance of the interplay between cancer cells and HPMCs but also define the role that the tumor environment plays in these interactions.