Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Characterizing Bioenergetics of Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Researchers have devised a system to constantly monitor morphology, viability, and metabolic activity of human basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which demonstrated the effects/interactions of both types of skin cancer cells on fibroblasts and vice versa. Addy Alt-Holland, PhD, of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, published this work with colleagues in In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Animal.

“Characterizing the bioenergetics of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma 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,” concluded the authors.

The team used a combination of bright-field microscopy, fluorescent in situ hybridization, metabolomics, and cell-culturing assays in their work. They used human basal cell carcinoma cells as well as E-cadherin–competent squamous cell carcinoma cells, and E-cadherin–suppressed squamous cell carcinoma cells in the presence or absence of human dermal fibroblasts.

When culturing each type of carcinoma cell line alone, the cells demonstrated a distinct morphology, growth, and organizational pattern. Cells also had unique patterns of consumption and secretion of glucose, lactate, acetate, glutamine, glutamate, and pyruvate in these monocultures. Adding fibroblasts to cultures of both types of skin cancer cells was found to enrich the environment for cell growth and allowed for metabolic cooperation between the two cell types. Co-culturing resulted in alterations in the metabolic profiles as well, with variations occurring in the levels of glutamate, pyruvate, lactate, and glutamine secretion. These changes were affected by cancer cell type (basal cell carcinoma vs squamous cell carcinoma) as well as culture confluence and the composition of the growth medium.

Disclosure: The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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