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Curr Mol Med. 2006 Sep;6(6):685-93.

Molecular aspects of stromal-parenchymal interactions in malignant neoplasms.

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First Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research, Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Budapest, Hungary.


Carcinomas are composed of parenchymal and stromal elements, and the malignant behavior is principally dictated by the cancer cells. However, the malignant tumors not merely grow into a preexisting interstitial tissue, but they actively form a new stroma and modify their composition. Thus, the tumor stroma is significantly different from that of the neighboring tissues. Cancer cells may alter their stroma by cell-to-cell contact, soluble factors or by modification of the extracellular matrix (ECM), they induce myofibroblast differentiation and govern the desmoplastic stroma reaction. On the other hand, the stromal cells (especially the myofibroblasts) are able to modify the phenotype, invasiveness, metastatic capacity of carcinomas, typically promoting the progression. Regarding pancreatic cancer, the pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) seem to be the key elements in the cross-talk between the parenchymal cells and the desmoplastic stroma. The tumor stroma is also rich in tumor-associated macrophages (TAM), but their role in the malignant process is contradictory and may be different in various tumor types, but most studies suggest a negative impact on the tumor growth. The relationship between the parenchymal and stromal elements is highly complex, they mutually alter their characteristics. Because the neostroma of the carcinomas largely seems to promote the invasiveness of the malignant tumors, novel therapeutic strategies are being evaluated targeting the stromal elements, with some encouraging, but still fragmentary results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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