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Collaborative and Defensive Fibroblasts in Tumor Progression and Therapy Resistance

[ Vol. 24 , Issue. 26 ]


Barbara Chiavarina and Andrei Turtoi*   Pages 2846 - 2859 ( 14 )


Tumor microenvironment is a complex network of epithelial cancer cells and non-transformed stromal cells. Of the many stromal cell types, fibroblasts are the most numerous ones and are traditionally viewed as supportive elements of cancer progression. Many studies show that cancer cells engage in active crosstalk with associated fibroblasts in order to obtain key resources, such as growth factors and nutrients. The facets of fibroblast “complicity to murder” in cancer are multiple. However, recent therapeutic attempts aiming at depleting fibroblasts from tumors, perturbed rather simplistic picture. Contrary to the expectations, tumors devoid of fibroblasts accelerated their progression while patients faced poorer outcomes. These studies remind us of the physiologic roles fibroblasts have in maintaining tissue homeostasis even in the presence of cancer. It is becoming increasingly clear that our research focus on advanced tumors has biased our understanding of fibroblast role in tumor biology. The numerous events where the fibroblasts protect the tissue from malignant transformation remain largely unacknowledged, as the tumors are invisible. The present review has the ambition to offer a more balanced view of fibroblasts functions in cancer progression and therapy resistance. We will address the question whether it is possible to synergize the efforts with fibroblasts as the therapeutic concept against tumor progression and therapy resistance.


CAF, heterogeneity, metastasis, microenvironment, pancreatic cancer, TGF-β1


Institut de Recherche en Cancérologie de Montpellier, Institut de Recherche en Cancérologie de Montpellier, Tumor Microenvironment and Resistance to Treatment Lab, Campus Val d’Aurelle, F-34298 Montpellier Cedex 5

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