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Mutat Res. 2014 Oct;768:98-106. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Feb 7.

Mesenchymal stem cells and cancer: friends or enemies?

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Department of Molecular Medicine, Gachon University, Incheon, Republic of Korea; Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute, Gachon University, Incheon, Republic of Korea.
Industry-academic cooperation foundation, Jungwon University, Chungbuk, Korea.
Adult Stem Cell Research Center, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Department of Veterinary Public Health, Laboratory of Stem Cell and Tumor Biology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Electronic address:


There is increasing evidence that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the ability to migrate and engraft into tumor sites and exert stimulatory effects on cancer cell growth, invasion and even metastasis through direct and/or indirect interaction with tumor cells. However, these pro-tumorigenic effects of MSCs are still being discovered and may even involve opposing effects. MSCs can be friends or enemies of cancer cells: they may stimulate tumor development by regulating immune surveillance, growth, and angiogenesis. On the other hand, they may inhibit tumor growth by inhibiting survival signaling such as Wnt and Akt pathway. MSCs have also been proposed as an attractive candidate for the delivery of anti-tumor agents, owing to their ability to home into tumor sites and to secrete cytokines. Detailed information about the mutual interactions between tumor cells and MSCs will undoubtedly lead to safer and more effective clinical therapy for tumors. In this article, we summarize a number of findings to provide current information on the potential roles of MSCs in tumor development; we then discuss the therapeutic potential of engineered MSCs to reveal any meaningful clinical applications.


Gene therapy; Immune surveillance; Mesenchymal stem cells; Prodrug; Tropism; Tumor microenvironments

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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