A delicate balance: TGF-beta and the tumor microenvironment

J Cell Biochem. 2007 Jul 1;101(4):851-61. doi: 10.1002/jcb.21149.


The activated form of TGF-beta is a known regulator of epithelial cell autonomous tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. Recent studies have also indicated that TGF-beta mediates interactions between cancer cells and their local tumor microenvironment. Specifically, the loss of TGF-beta signaling in stromal components including fibroblasts and T-cells can result in an "activated" microenvironment that supports and even initiates transformation of adjacent epithelial cells. TGF-beta signaling in cancer can be regulated through mechanisms involving ligand activation and expression of essential components within the pathway including the receptors and downstream effectors. TGF-beta signaling in the tumor microenvironment significantly impacts carcinoma initiation, progression, and metastasis via epithelial cell autonomous and interdependent stromal-epithelial interactions in vivo.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mesoderm / pathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta