Breast cancer cells compete with hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells for intercellular adhesion molecule 1-mediated binding to the bone marrow microenvironment

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Adhesion-based cellular interactions involved in breast cancer metastasis to the bone marrow remain elusive. We identified that breast cancer cells directly compete with hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) for retention in the bone marrow microenvironment. To this end, we established two models of competitive cell adhesion-simultaneous and sequential-to study a potential competition for homing to the niche and displacement of the endogenous HSPCs upon invasion by tumor cells. In both models, breast cancer cells but not non-tumorigenic cells competitively reduced adhesion of HSPCs to bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in a tumor cell number-dependent manner. Higher adhesive force between breast cancer cells and MSCs, as compared with HSPCs, assessed by quantitative atomic force microscopy-based single-cell force spectroscopy could partially account for tumor cell mediated reduction in HSPC adhesion to MSCs. Genetic inactivation and blockade studies revealed that homophilic interactions between intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) expressed on tumor cells and MSCs, respectively, regulate the competition between tumor cells and HSPCs for binding to MSCs. Moreover, tumor cell-secreted soluble ICAM-1(sICAM-1) also impaired HSPC adhesion via blocking CD18-ICAM-1 binding between HSPCs and MSCs. Xenotransplantation studies in NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ mice revealed reduction of human HSPCs in the bone marrow via metastatic breast cancer cells. These findings point to a direct competitive interaction between disseminated breast cancer cells and HSPCs within the bone marrow micro environment. This interaction might also have implications on niche-based tumor support. Therefore, targeting this cross talk may represent a novel therapeutic strategy.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-767
Number of pages9
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

External IDs

researchoutputwizard legacy.publication#72651
Scopus 84982983885
PubMed 27207667


Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas