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Breast Cancer Res. 2001;3(4):213-7. Epub 2001 Jun 12.

The plasticity of human breast carcinoma cells is more than epithelial to mesenchymal conversion.

Author information

1
Structural Cell Biology Unit, Institute of Medical Anatomy, The Panum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark. o.w.petersen@mai.ku.dk

Abstract

The human breast comprises three lineages: the luminal epithelial lineage, the myoepithelial lineage, and the mesenchymal lineage. It has been widely accepted that human breast neoplasia pertains only to the luminal epithelial lineage. In recent years, however, evidence has accumulated that neoplastic breast epithelial cells may be substantially more plastic in their differentiation repertoire than previously anticipated. Thus, along with an increasing availability of markers for the myoepithelial lineage, at least a partial differentiation towards this lineage is being revealed frequently. It has also become clear that conversions towards the mesenchymal lineage actually occur, referred to as epithelial to mesenchymal transitions. Indeed, some of the so-called myofibroblasts surrounding the tumor may have an epithelial origin rather than a mesenchymal origin. Because myoepithelial cells, epithelial to mesenchymal transition-derived cells, genuine stromal cells and myofibroblasts share common markers, we now need to define a more ambitious set of markers to distinguish these cell types in the microenvironment of the tumors. This is necessary because the different microenvironments may confer different clinical outcomes. The aim of this commentary is to describe some of the inherent complexities in defining cellular phenotypes in the microenvironment of breast cancer and to expand wherever possible on the implications for tumor suppression and progression.

PMID:
11434871
PMCID:
PMC138684
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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