Lim ML, Ooi BN, Jungebluth P, Sjöqvist S, Hultman I, Lemon G, Gustafsson Y, Asmundsson J, Baiguera S, Douagi I, Gilevich I, Popova A, Haag JC, Rodríguez AB, Lim J, Liedén A, Nordenskjöld M, Alici E, Baker D, Unger C, Luedde T, Vassiliev I, Inzunza J, Ahrlund-Richter L, Macchiarini P
PLoS ONE 9 (9) e107712 [2014-09-17; online 2014-09-17]
Stem cells contribute to regeneration of tissues and organs. Cells with stem cell-like properties have been identified in tumors from a variety of origins, but to our knowledge there are yet no reports on tumor-related stem cells in the human upper respiratory tract. In the present study, we show that a tracheal mucoepidermoid tumor biopsy obtained from a 6 year-old patient contained a subpopulation of cells with morphology, clonogenicity and surface markers that overlapped with bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs). These cells, designated as MEi (mesenchymal stem cell-like mucoepidermoid tumor) cells, could be differentiated towards mesenchymal lineages both with and without induction, and formed spheroids in vitro. The MEi cells shared several multipotent characteristics with BM-MSCs. However, they displayed differences to BM-MSCs in growth kinectics and gene expression profiles relating to cancer pathways and tube development. Despite this, the MEi cells did not possess in vivo tumor-initiating capacity, as proven by the absence of growth in situ after localized injection in immunocompromised mice. Our results provide an initial characterization of benign tracheal cancer-derived niche cells. We believe that this report could be of importance to further understand tracheal cancer initiation and progression as well as therapeutic development.