Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 15 pp 19375—19396

THBS4/integrin α2 axis mediates BM-MSCs to promote angiogenesis in gastric cancer associated with chronic Helicobacter pylori infection

LingNan He1, , WeiJun Wang1, , HuiYing Shi1, , Chen Jiang1, , HaiLing Yao1, , YuRui Zhang1, , Wei Qian1, , Rong Lin1, ,

  • 1 Department of Gastroenterology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China

Received: March 26, 2021       Accepted: May 20, 2021       Published: August 14, 2021
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2021 He et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Background: BM-MSCs contribute to Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)-induced gastric cancer, but their mechanism is still unclear. The aim of our study was to investigate the specific role and mechanism of BM-MSCs in H. pylori-induced gastric cancer.

Main methods: Mice received total bone marrow transplants and were then infected with H. pylori. BM-MSCs were extracted and transplanted into the gastric serosal layer of mice chronically infected with H. pylori. Hematoxylin and eosin staining, immunohistochemistry staining and immunofluorescence were performed to detect tumor growth and angiogenesis in mouse stomach tissues. Chicken chorioallantoic membrane assays, xenograft tumor models, and human umbilical vein endothelial cell tube formation assays were used for in vivo and in vitro angiogenesis studies. THBS4 was screened from RNA-seq analysis of gastric tissues of BM-MSCs transplanted into H. pylori-infected mice.

Results: BM-MSCs can migrate to the site of chronic mucosal injury and promote tumor angiogenesis associated with chronic H. pylori infection. Migration of BM-MSCs to the site of chronic mucosal injury induced the upregulation of THBS4, which was also evident in human gastric cancer and correlated with increased blood vessel formation and worse outcome. The THBS4/integrin α2 axis promoted angiogenesis by facilitating the PI3K/AKT pathway in endothelial cells.

Conclusions: Our results revealed a novel proangiogenic effect of BM-MSCs in the chronic H. pylori infection microenvironment, primarily mediated by the THBS4/integrin α2 axis, which activates the PI3K/AKT pathway in endothelial cells and eventually induces the formation of new tumor vessels.


BM-MSCs: bone marrow (BM)-derived mesenchymal stem cells; THBS4: Thrombospondin 4; GC: Gastric cancer; H. pylori: Helicobacter pylori; HUVECs: Human umbilical vein endothelial cells; CAM: Chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane; qRT-PCR: Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction; GO: Gene Ontology.