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Front Oncol. 2015 Mar 23;5:63. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2015.00063. eCollection 2015.

Cancer-associated fibroblasts connect metastasis-promoting communication in colorectal cancer.

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Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research, Department of Radiation Oncology and Experimental Cancer Research, Ghent University , Ghent , Belgium.
Department of Pathology, Erasme University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles , Brussels , Belgium.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) progression and eventually metastasis is directed in many aspects by a circuitous ecosystem consisting of an extracellular matrix scaffold populated by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), endothelial cells, and diverse immune cells. CAFs are recruited from local tissue-resident fibroblasts or pericryptal fibroblasts and distant fibroblast precursors. CAFs are highly abundant in CRC. In this review, we apply the metastasis-promoting communication of colorectal CAFs to 10 cancer hallmarks described by Hanahan and Weinberg. CAFs influence innate and adaptive tumor immune responses. Using datasets from previously published work, we re-explore the potential messages implicated in this process. Fibroblasts present in metastasis (metastasis-associated fibroblasts) from CRC may have other characteristics and functional roles than CAFs in the primary tumor. Since CAFs connect metastasis-promoting communication, CAF markers are potential prognostic biomarkers. CAFs and their products are possible targets for novel therapeutic strategies.


cancer-associated fibroblasts; colorectal cancer; immune cells; metastasis; pericryptal fibroblasts

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