Obesity-altered adipose stem cells promote radiation resistance of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer through paracrine signaling

Rachel A. Sabol, Vidal A. Villela, Alexandra Denys, Benjamin T. Freeman, Alifiani B. Hartono, Rachel M. Wise, Mark A.A. Harrison, Maxwell B. Sandler, Fokhrul Hossain, Lucio Miele, Bruce A. Bunnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Obesity is associated with poorer responses to chemo-and radiation therapy for breast cancer, which leads to higher mortality rates for obese women who develop breast cancer. Adipose stem cells (ASCs) are an integral stromal component of the tumor microenvironment (TME). In this study, the effects of obesity-altered ASCs (obASCs) on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell’s (ER+BCCs) response to radiotherapy (RT) were evaluated. We determined that BCCs had a decreased apoptotic index and increased surviving fraction following RT when co-cultured with obASCs compared to lnASCs or non-co-cultured cells. Further, obASCs reduced oxidative stress and induced IL-6 expression in co-cultured BCCs after radiation. obASCs produce increased levels of leptin relative to ASCs from normal-weight individuals (lnASCs). obASCs upregulate the expression of IL-6 compared to non-co-cultured BCCs, but BCCs co-cultured with leptin knockdown obASCs did not upregulate IL-6. The impact of shLeptin obASCs on radiation resistance of ER+BCCs demonstrate a decreased radioprotective ability compared to shControl obASCs. Key NOTCH signaling players were enhanced in ER+BBCs following co-culture with shCtrl obASCs but not shLep obASCs. This work demonstrates that obesity-altered ASCs, via enhanced secretion of leptin, promote IL-6 and NOTCH signaling pathways in ER+BCCs leading to radiation resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2722
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020


  • Adipose stem cells
  • Breast cancer
  • Obesity
  • Radiation resistance
  • Radiotherapy


Dive into the research topics of 'Obesity-altered adipose stem cells promote radiation resistance of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer through paracrine signaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this