We studied the expression of inducible heat shock protein (HSP27, HSP72) and multidrug-resistance protein (MRP) in co-cultures of human colon carcinoma cell spheroids obtained from different grades of tumour with normal human colon epithelium, myofibroblast and endothelial cell monolayers. We also measured the influence of recombinant human transforming growth factor 𝛽1 (rhTGF-𝛽1) and camptothecin (CPT-11), added as single agents or in combination, on the levels of the HSPs, MRP, interleukin (IL)-6 and nitric oxide (NO).
An immunoblotting analysis with densitometry showed that rhTGF-𝛽1 and/or CPT-11 increased HSP27, HSP72 and MRP expression in tumour cells and myofibroblasts, as well as in co-cultures compared with appropriate controls. By contrast, in colonic epithelium, inhibition of HSPs and MRP was comparable with that of the control. In endothelial cells, HSP72 was undetectable.
Direct interaction of colon tumour spheroids with normal myofibroblasts caused a significant, tumour-grade dependent increase in IL-6 production. Production of IL-6 was significantly lowered by rhTGF-𝛽1 and/or CPT-11. Tumour cell spheroids cultivated alone produced larger amounts of NO than normal cells. In co-culture, the level of the radical decreased compared with the sum of NO produced by the monocultures of the two types of cells. rhTGF-𝛽1 and/or CPT-11 decreased NO production both in tumour and normal cell monocultures and their co-cultures. In conclusion, direct interactions between tumour and normal cells influence the expression of HSP27, HSP72 and MRP, and alter IL-6 and NO production. rhTGF-𝛽1 and/or CPT-11 may potentate resistance to chemotherapy by increasing HSP and MRP expression but, on the other hand, they may limit tumour cell spread by decreasing the level of some soluble mediators of inflammation (IL-6 and NO).