Stromal cells in tumor microenvironment and breast cancer

Mao, Yan; Keller, Evan; Garfield, David; Shen, Kunwei; Wang, Jianhua
June 2013
Cancer & Metastasis Reviews;Jun2013, Vol. 32 Issue 1/2, p303
Academic Journal
Cancer is a systemic disease encompassing multiple components of both tumor cells themselves and host stromal cells. It is now clear that stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment play an important role in cancer development. Molecular events through which reactive stromal cells affect cancer cells can be defined so that biomarkers and therapeutic targets can be identified. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) make up the bulk of cancer stroma and affect the tumor microenvironment such that they promote cancer initiation, angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. In breast cancer, CAFs not only promote tumor progression but also induce therapeutic resistance. Accordingly, targeting CAFs provides a novel way to control tumors with therapeutic resistance. This review summarizes the current understandings of tumor stroma in breast cancer with a particular emphasis on the role of CAFs and the therapeutic implications of CAFs. In addition, the effects of other stromal components such as endothelial cells, macrophages, and adipocytes in breast cancer are also discussed. Finally, we describe the biologic markers to categorize patients into a specific and confirmed subtype for personalized treatment.


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