Comparative Study of the Role of Interepithelial Mucosal Mast Cells in the Context of Intestinal Adenoma-Carcinoma Progression

Groll, T., Silva, M., Sarker, R.S.J., Tschurtschenthaler, M., Schnalzger, T., Mogler, C., Denk, D., Scholch, S., Schraml, B.U., Ruland, J., Rad, R., Saur, D., Weichert, W., Jesinghaus, M., Matiasek, K., Steiger, K. (2022). Cancers (Basel) 14.



Mast cells (MCs) are crucial players in the relationship between the tumor microenviron-ment (TME) and cancer cells and have been shown to influence angiogenesis and progression of human colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the role of MCs in the TME is controversially discussed as either pro-or anti-tumorigenic. Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) are the most frequently used in vivo models for human CRC research. In the murine intestine there are at least three different MC subtypes: interepithelial mucosal mast cells (ieMMCs), lamina proprial mucosal mast cells (lpMMCs) and connective tissue mast cells (CTMCs). Interepithelial mucosal mast cells (ieMMCs) in (pre-)neoplastic intestinal formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens of mouse models (total lesions n = 274) and human patients (n = 104) were immunohistochemically identified and semiquantitatively scored. Scores were analyzed along the adenoma-carcinoma sequence in humans and 12 GEMMs of small and large intestinal cancer. The presence of ieMMCs was a com-mon finding in intestinal adenomas and carcinomas in mice and humans. The number of ieMMCs decreased in the course of colonic adenoma-carcinoma sequence in both species (p < 0.001). However, this dynamic cellular state was not observed for small intestinal murine tumors. Furthermore, ieMMC scores were higher in GEMMs with altered Wnt signaling (active β-catenin) than in GEMMs with altered MAPK signaling and wildtypes (WT). In conclusion, we hypothesize that, besides stromal MCs (lpMMCs/CTMCs), particularly the ieMMC subset is important for onset and progression of intestinal neoplasia and may interact with the adjacent neoplastic epithelial cells in dependence on the molecular environment. Moreover, our study indicates the need for adequate GEMMs for the investigation of the intestinal immunologic TME. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.