Metastatic tumors have been shown to establish microenvironments in distant tissues that are permissive to disseminated tumor cells. Hematopoietic cells contribute to this microenvironment, yet the precise initiating events responsible for establishing the pre-metastatic niche remain unclear. Here, we tracked the developmental fate of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) in tumor-bearing mice. We show that a distant primary tumor drives the expansion of HSPCs within the bone marrow and their mobilization to the bloodstream. Treatment of purified HSPCs cultured ex vivo with tumor-conditioned media induced their proliferation as well as their differentiation into immunosuppressive myeloid cells. We furthered tracked purified HSPCs in vivo and found they differentiated into myeloid-derived suppressor cells in early metastatic sites of tumor-bearing mice. The number of CD11b+Ly6g+ cells in metastatic sites was significantly increased by HSPC mobilization and decreased if tumormediated mobilization was inhibited. Moreover, pharmacologic mobilization of HSPCs increased metastasis, whereas depletion of Gr1+ cells abrogated the metastasis-promoting effects of HSPC mobilization. Finally, we detected elevated levels of HSPCs in the circulation of newly diagnosed cancer patients, which correlated with increased risk for metastatic progression. Taken together, our results highlight bone marrow activation as one of the earliest steps of the metastatic process and identify circulating HSPCs as potential clinical indicators of metastatic niche formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research