Mesenteric metastases in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) are associated with mesenteric fibrosis (MF) in a proportion of patients. MF can induce severe abdominal complications, and an effective preventive treatment is lacking. To elucidate possible novel therapeutic targets, we performed a proteomics-based analysis of MF. The tumor cell and stromal compartment of primary tumors and paired mesenteric metastases of SI-NET patients with MF (n = 6) and without MF (n = 6) was analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Analysis of differential protein abundance was performed. Collagen alpha-1(XII) (COL12A1) and complement component C9 (C9) expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in mesenteric metastases. A total of 2988 proteins were identified. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering showed close clustering of paired primary and mesenteric tumor cell samples. Comparing MF to non-MF samples, we detected differentially protein abundance solely in the mesenteric metastasis stroma group. There was no differential abundance of proteins in tumor cell samples or primary tumor stroma samples. Analysis of the differentially abundant proteins (n = 36) revealed higher abundance in MF samples of C9, various collagens and proteoglycans associated with profibrotic extracellular matrix dysregulation and signaling pathways. Proteins involved in fatty acid oxidation showed a lower abundance. COL12A1 and C9 were confirmed by IHC to have significantly higher expression in MF mesenteric metastases compared to non-MF. In conclusion, proteome profiles of SI-NETs with and without MF differ primarily in the stromal compartment of mesenteric metastases. Analysis of differentially abundant proteins revealed possible new signaling pathways involved in MF development. In conclusion, proteome profiles of SI-NETs with and without MF differ primarily in the stromal compartment of mesenteric metastases. Analysis of differentially abundant proteins revealed possible new signaling pathways involved in MF development.
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