Fibroblasts as architects of cancer pathogenesis
Sandra S. McAllister
Summary, in English
Studies of epithelial cancers (i.e., carcinomas) traditionally focused on transformation of the epithelium (i.e., the cancer cells) and how aberrant signaling within the cancer cells modulates the surrounding tissue of origin. In more recent decades, the normal cells, blood vessels, molecules, and extracellular components that surround the tumor cells, collectively known as the "tumor microenvironment" or "stroma", have received increasing attention and are now thought to be key regulators of tumor initiation and progression. Of particular relevance to the work reviewed herein are the fibroblasts, which make up the major cell type within the microenvironment of most carcinomas. Due to their inherent heterogeneity, plasticity, and function, it is perhaps not surprising that fibroblasts are ideal modulators of normal and cancerous epithelium; however, these aspects also present challenges if we are to interrupt their tumor-supportive functions. Here, we review the current body of knowledge and the many questions that still remain about the special entity known as the cancer-associated fibroblast. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Fibrosis: Translation of basic research to human disease. (C) 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V.