Review Article | Published:

Microenvironmental regulation of tumor progression and metastasis

Nature Medicine volume 19, pages 14231437 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

Cancers develop in complex tissue environments, which they depend on for sustained growth, invasion and metastasis. Unlike tumor cells, stromal cell types within the tumor microenvironment (TME) are genetically stable and thus represent an attractive therapeutic target with reduced risk of resistance and tumor recurrence. However, specifically disrupting the pro-tumorigenic TME is a challenging undertaking, as the TME has diverse capacities to induce both beneficial and adverse consequences for tumorigenesis. Furthermore, many studies have shown that the microenvironment is capable of normalizing tumor cells, suggesting that re-education of stromal cells, rather than targeted ablation per se, may be an effective strategy for treating cancer. Here we discuss the paradoxical roles of the TME during specific stages of cancer progression and metastasis, as well as recent therapeutic attempts to re-educate stromal cells within the TME to have anti-tumorigenic effects.

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Acknowledgements

We apologize to the many authors whose work we could not cite because of space constraints. D.F.Q. is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research fellowship. Research in J.A.J.'s lab is supported by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Cycle for Survival.

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  1. Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.

    • Daniela F Quail
    •  & Johanna A Joyce

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Johanna A Joyce.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.3394

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