EMT: when epithelial cells decide to become mesenchymal-like cells

J Clin Invest. 2009 Jun;119(6):1417-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI39675.


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is critical for appropriate embryonic development, and this process is re-engaged in adults during wound healing, tissue regeneration, organ fibrosis, and cancer progression. Inflammation is a crucial conspirator in the emergence of EMT in adults but is absent during embryonic development. As highlighted in this Review series, EMT is now a recognized mechanism for dispersing cells in embryos, forming fibroblasts/mesenchymal cells in injured tissues, and initiating metastasis of epithelial cancer cells. Also discussed are proposals to classify EMT into three subtypes, each of which has different functional consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Disease
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*