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Oncol Lett. 2017 Sep;14(3):2611-2620. doi: 10.3892/ol.2017.6497. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

Cancer associated fibroblasts: An essential role in the tumor microenvironment.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Jinling Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210002, P.R. China.


Fibroblasts in the tumor stroma are well recognized as having an indispensable role in carcinogenesis, including in the initiation of epithelial tumor formation. The association between cancer cells and fibroblasts has been highlighted in several previous studies. Regulation factors released from cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) into the tumor microenvironment have essential roles, including the support of tumor growth, angiogenesis, metastasis and therapy resistance. A mutual interaction between tumor-induced fibroblast activation, and fibroblast-induced tumor proliferation and metastasis occurs, thus CAFs act as tumor supporters. Previous studies have reported that by developing fibroblast-targeting drugs, it may be possible to interrupt the interaction between fibroblasts and the tumor, thus resulting in the suppression of tumor growth, and metastasis. The present review focused on the reciprocal feedback loop between fibroblasts and cancer cells, and evaluated the potential application of anti-CAF agents in the treatment of cancer.


cancer; cancer associated fibroblasts; interaction; loop; therapy

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