Tumor stroma

Anticancer Res. 1999 Nov-Dec;19(6A):4809-22.


The accumulated evidence indicates that tumor stroma with its cells and cell products plays a much more active and important role than previously believed. Growth factors and cytokines produced by macrophages and other cells are crucial for stroma formation and angiogenesis. Lytic enzymes provided by stromal cells may be essential for invasion. TNF and other inflammatory mediators may be operative in the systemic effects of tumors, e.g. cachexia. All these effects may come about through the action of soluble substances produced by tumor cells or by more intimate interactions. There is no evidence that stromal cells are directly involved in carcinogenesis--i.e. the cellular transformation to produce the malignant cell. On the other hand, stromal cells and other components of the interstitia are instrumental in tumorigenesis--i.e. the development of a real malignant tumor from its start on the cellular or subcellular level. In one way of looking at it, the stromal cells, e.g. macrophages may be considered as "slaves", kept to carry out certain functions, synthesize essential substances e.g. growth factors that the tumor cells do not have the capacity or the degree of finely tuned machinery to produce. The objective of immunomodulation should then be to create a "slave uprising", to make the macrophages and other cells turn against their masters, stop producing growth factors and start producing harmful factors that would lead to the elimination of the malignant growth. The first target of immunomodulation in tumor disease should probably be local malignancies where no effective treatment exists today- and selected cases of metastatic prevention (181, 182).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stromal Cells / pathology*