Tumors and fibrinogen. The role of fibrinogen as an extracellular matrix protein

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001;936:406-25.


The progression of a tumor from benign and localized to invasive and metastatic growth is the major cause of poor clinical outcome in cancer patients. Much like in a healing wound, the deposition of fibrin(ogen), along with other adhesive glycoproteins, into the extracellular matrix (ECM) serves as a scaffold to support binding of growth factors and to promote the cellular responses of adhesion, proliferation, and migration during angiogenesis and tumor cell growth. Inappropriate synthesis and deposition of ECM constituents is linked to altered regulation of cell proliferation, leading to tumor cell growth and malignant transformation. Fibrin deposition occurs within the stroma of a majority of tumor types. In contrast, abundant FBG, not fibrin, is present within the stroma of breast cancers. It is thought to originate from exudation of plasma FBG and subsequent deposition into the tumor stroma and not endogenous synthesis and secretion of FBG by breast tumor cells. However, we show that MCF-7 human breast cancer cells synthesize and secrete FBG polypeptides, suggesting that the origin of FBG in the stroma of breast carcinoma may be due to endogenous synthesis and deposition. Moreover, FBG assembles into ECM as conformationally altered FBG, not as fibrin. Studies in our laboratory demonstrate that FBG alters the ability of breast cancer cells to migrate. Together, the results of studies from our laboratory, as well as the laboratories of others, indicate that the presence of fibrin(ogen) within the tumor stroma likely affects the progression of tumor cell growth and metastasis. This review focuses on FBG within tumors and its relationship with other tumor constituents, ultimately focusing on the role of FBG in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / physiology*
  • Fibrinogen / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Fibrinogen