Interferon-Alpha Decreases Cancer Stem Cell Properties and Modulates Exosomes in Malignant Melanoma

García-Ortega, M.B.; Aparicio, E.; Griñán-Lisón, C.; Jiménez, G.; López-Ruiz, E.; Palacios, J. L.; Ruiz-Alcalá, G.; Alba, C.; Martínez, A.; Boulaiz, H.; Perán, M.; Hackenberg, M.; Bragança, J.; Calado, S. M.; Marchal, J. A.; García, M. Á.

Revista: Cancers

Año de publicación: 2023

Número: 15



Malignant melanoma (MM) can spread to other organs and is resistant in part due to the presence of cancer stem cell subpopulations (CSCs). While a controversial high dose of interferon-alpha (IFN-α) has been used to treat non-metastatic high-risk melanoma, it comes with undesirable side effects. In this study, we evaluated the effect of low and high doses of IFN-α on CSCs by analyzing ALDH activity, side population and specific surface markers in established and patient-derived primary cell lines. We also assessed the clonogenicity, migration and tumor initiation capacities of IFN-α treated CSCs. Additionally, we investigated genomic modulations related to stemness properties using microRNA sequencing and microarrays. The effect of IFN-α on CSCs-derived exosomes was also analyzed using NanoSight and liquid chromatography (LC-HRMS)-based metabolomic analysis, among others. Our results showed that even low doses of IFN-α reduced CSC formation and stemness properties, and led to a significant decrease in the ability to form tumors in mice xenotransplants. IFN-α also modulated the expression of genes and microRNAs involved in several cancer processes and metabolomics of released exosomes. Our work suggests the utility of low doses of interferon, combined with the analysis of metabolic biomarkers, as a potential clinical approach against the aggressiveness of CSCs in melanoma.