Cervical cancer; Lymph node; Metastatic; Periostin; Pre-metastatic; Cell Adhesion Molecules; POSTN protein, human; Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C; Animals; Cell Adhesion Molecules/metabolism; Endothelial Cells/metabolism; Female; Humans; Lymphatic Metastasis/pathology; Mice; Proteomics; Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C/metabolism; Lymph Nodes/metabolism; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/metabolism; Cell Biology; Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience; Pharmacology; Molecular Biology; Molecular Medicine
[en] Although lymph node (LN) metastasis is an important prognostic parameter in cervical cancer, the tissue remodeling at a pre-metastatic state is poorly documented in LNs. We here identified periostin (POSTN) as a component of non-metastatic LNs by applying proteomic analyses and computerized image quantifications on LNs of patients with cervical cancer. We provide evidence for remarkable modifications of POSTN and lymphatic vessel distributions and densities in non-metastatic sentinel and metastatic human LNs, when compared to distant non-metastatic LNs. POSTN deposition at a pre-metastatic stage was demonstrated in a pre-clinical murine model (the ear sponge assay). Its expression by fibroblastic LN cells was assessed by in situ hybridization and in vitro cultures. In vitro, POSTN promoted lymphatic endothelial cell functions and tumor cell proliferation. Accordingly, the in vivo injection of recombinant POSTN together with VEGF-C boosted the lymphangiogenic response, while the metastatic potential of tumor cells was drastically reduced using a POSTN blocking antibody. This translational study also supports the existence of an unprecedented dialog "in cascade", between the primary tumor and the first pelvic nodal relay in early cervical cancer, and subsequently from pelvic LN to para-aortic LNs in locally advanced cervical cancers. Collectively, this work highlights the association of POSTN deposition with lymphangiogenesis in LNs, and provides evidence for a key contribution of POSTN in promoting VEGF-C driven lymphangiogenesis and the seeding of metastatic cells.