Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Cancer. 1994 Mar 1;56(5):731-5.

Fibroblast-mediated differentiation in human breast carcinoma cells (MCF-7) grown as nodules in vitro.

Author information

Institut d'Oncologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire Humaine, Université Paris-Nord, Bobigny, France.


The growth of cells in 3-dimensional form as nodules in vitro facilitates studies of in vivo cellular interactions. Taking advantage of this technique, human breast carcinoma cells (MCF-7) were co-cultured with stromal fibroblasts isolated from either normal or tumorous breast tissue to study the influence of such fibroblasts on tumor-cell growth and differentiation. Ten days after co-culture of carcinoma cells with fibroblasts from normal tissue at a 1:10 ratio, the size of nodules began to increase and stabilize by day 30 while the fibroblast number decreased and finally disappeared. Concurrently, the carcinoma cells underwent a progressive redifferentiation process which histologically resulted in the appearance of highly developed papillar and tubular structures after 2 months in culture. The production of mucins was further evidence that these cells had undergone differentiation. By contrast, when MCF-7 cells were grown alone or with fibroblasts isolated from a breast carcinoma, the nodules continued to exhibit their characteristic histodedifferentiation properties and did not grow. The re-establishment of a normal epithelial state of differentiation in MCF-7 carcinoma nodules indicates that the phenotypic characteristics of tumor cells are reversible and are influenced or controlled by the stromal environment by which these tumor cells are surrounded or in contact with. Overall, our results open the possibility of exploiting the effects that connective tissue cells have on tumor-cell differentiation for use in prevention and treatment of cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center