Dysregulation of Iron Metabolism in Cholangiocarcinoma Stem-like Cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a devastating liver tumour arising from malignant transformation of bile duct epithelial cells. Cancer stem cells (CSC) are a subset of tumour cells endowed with stem-like properties, which play a role in tumour initiation, recurrence and metastasis. In appropriate conditions, CSC form 3D spheres (SPH), which retain stem-like tumour-initiating features. Here, we found different expression of iron proteins indicating increased iron content, oxidative stress and higher expression of CSC markers in CCA-SPH compared to tumour cells growing as monolayers. Exposure to the iron chelator desferrioxamine decreased SPH forming efficiency and the expression of CSC markers and stem-like genes, whereas iron had an opposite effect. Microarray profiles in CCA samples (n=104) showed decreased H ferritin, hepcidin and ferroportin expression in tumours respect to surrounding liver, whereas transferrin receptor was up-regulated. Moreover, we found a trend toward poorer outcome in CCA patients with elevated expression of ferritin and hepcidin, two major proteins of iron metabolism. These findings, which represent the first evidence of a role for iron in the stem cell compartment as a novel metabolic factor involved in CCA growth, may have implications for a better therapeutic approach.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Raggi, C., Gammella, E., Correnti, M., Buratti, P., Forti, E., Andersen, J. B., ... Recalcati, S.

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Raggi, Chiara||Gammella, Elena||Correnti, Margherita||Buratti, Paolo||Forti, Elisa||Andersen, Jesper B||Alpini, Gianfranco||Glaser, Shannon||Alvaro, Domenico||Invernizzi, Pietro||Cairo, Gaetano||Recalcati, Stefania

publication date

  • January 2017