The influence of the microenvironment on the malignant phenotype

Mol Med Today. 2000 Aug;6(8):324-9. doi: 10.1016/s1357-4310(00)01756-1.


Normal tissue homeostasis is maintained by dynamic interactions between epithelial cells and their microenvironment. As tissue becomes cancerous, there are reciprocal interactions between neoplastic cells, adjacent normal cells such as stroma and endothelium, and their microenvironments. The current dominant paradigm wherein multiple genetic lesions provide both the impetus for, and the Achilles heel of, cancer might be inadequate to understand cancer as a disease process. In the following brief review, we will use selected examples to illustrate the influence of the microenvironment in the evolution of the malignant phenotype. We will also discuss recent studies that suggest novel therapeutic interventions might be derived from focusing on microenvironment and tumor cells interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Phenotype
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology


  • Integrins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta