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Delineating cell behavior and metabolism of non-melanoma skin cancer in vitro

Mendez, Tatiana, Saffari, Shawheen, Cowan, Janet M., Laver, Nora M. V., Baleja, James D., Alt-Holland, Addy
In vitro cellular & developmental biology 2020 v.56 no.2 pp. 165-180
acetates, biochemical pathways, biosynthesis, cell growth, coculture, culture media, energy metabolism, epithelial cells, etiology, fibroblasts, glucose, glutamic acid, glutamine, human cell lines, lactic acid, neoplasm cells, pathogenesis, pyruvic acid, secretion, skin neoplasms, squamous cell carcinoma, ultraviolet radiation
Non-melanoma skin cancers - basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) - are the most frequent forms of malignant neoplasm in humans worldwide. The etiology of these carcinomas is multifactorial. In addition to the harmful effect of UV light, altered cross-talk between neoplastic epithelial cells and the supporting dermal fibroblasts contributes to the regulation of tumor cell behavior, growth and survival. Metabolic cooperation between these cell types allows them to adapt and react to changes in their surrounding microenvironment by modifying their cellular bioenergetics and biosynthesis. We characterized the growth, behavior, and metabolic activity of human BCC cells, E-cadherin-competent SCC cells and E-cadherin-suppressed SCC cells in the presence or absence of dermal fibroblasts. In mono-cultures and co-cultures, BCC and SCC cells demonstrated distinct morphology, growth and organizational patterns. These tumor cells also exhibited unique patterns of consumption and secretion profiles of glucose, lactate, acetate, glutamine, glutamate, and pyruvate. In comparison to mono-cultures, growth of fibroblasts with either BCC cells or SCC cells enriched the cell growth environment, allowed for metabolic cooperation between these two cell types, and resulted in alterations in the metabolic profiles of the co-cultures. These alterations were affected by the cancer cell type, culture confluence and the composition of the growth medium. Characterizing the bioenergetics of BCC and SCC cells in the context of tumor-stromal interactions is not only important for further understanding of tumor pathogenesis, but also can illuminate potential new targets for novel, metabolic-based therapies for non-melanoma skin cancers.