Cancer-associated fibroblasts drive the progression of metastasis through both paracrine and mechanical pressure on cancer tissue

George S. Karagiannis, Theofilos Poutahidis, Susan E. Erdman, Richard Kirsch, Robert H. Riddell, Eleftherios P. Diamandis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

385 Scopus citations


Neoplastic cells recruit fibroblasts through various growth factors and cytokines. These "cancer-associated fibroblasts" (CAF) actively interact with neoplastic cells and form a myofibroblastic microenvironment that promotes cancer growth and survival and supports malignancy. Several products of their paracrine signaling repertoire have been recognized as tumor growth and metastasis regulators. However, tumor-promoting cell signaling is not the only reason that makes CAFs key components of the "tumor microenvironment," as CAFs affect both the architecture and growth mechanics of the developing tumor. CAFs participate in the remodeling of peritumoral stroma, which is a prerequisite of neoplastic cell invasion, expansion, and metastasis. CAFs are not present peritumorally as individual cells but they act orchestrated to fully deploy a desmoplastic program, characterized by "syncytial" (or collective) configuration and altered cell adhesion properties. Such myofibroblastic cohorts are reminiscent of those encountered in wound-healing processes. The view of "cancer as a wound that does not heal" led to useful comparisons between wound healing and tumorigenesis and expanded our knowledge of the role of CAF cohorts in cancer. In this integrative model of cancer invasion and metastasis, we propose that the CAF-supported microenvironment has a dual tumor-promoting role. Not only does it provide essential signals for cancer cell dedifferentiation, proliferation, and survival but it also facilitates cancer cell local invasion and metastatic phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1403-1418
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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