Microenvironments dictating tumor cell dormancy

Paloma Bragado, Maria Soledad Sosa, Patricia Keely, John Condeelis, Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

103 Scopus citations


The mechanisms driving dormancy of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) remain largely unknown. Here, we discuss experimental evidence and theoretical frameworks that support three potential scenarios contributing to tumor cell dormancy. The first scenario proposes that DTCs from invasive cancers activate stress signals in response to the dissemination process and/or a growth suppressive target organ microenvironment inducing dormancy. The second scenario asks whether therapy and/or micro-environmental stress conditions (e.g. hypoxia) acting on primary tumor cells carrying specific gene signatures prime new DTCs to enter dormancy in a matching target organ microenvironment that can also control the timing of DTC dormancy. The third and final scenario proposes that early dissemination contributes a population of DTCs that are unfit for immediate expansion and survive mostly in an arrested state well after primary tumor surgery, until genetic and/or epigenetic mechanisms activate their proliferation. We propose that DTC dormancy is ultimately a survival strategy that when targeted will eradicate dormant DTCs preventing metastasis. For these non-mutually exclusive scenarios we review experimental and clinical evidence in their support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMinimal Residual Disease and Circulating Tumor Cells in Breast Cancer
EditorsMichail Ignatiadis, Christos Sotiriou, Klaus Pantel
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameRecent Results in Cancer Research
ISSN (Print)0080-0015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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