Perspectives on tissue interactions in development and disease

Curr Mol Med. 2010 Feb;10(1):95-112. doi: 10.2174/156652410791065363.


From the morphogenetic movements of the three germ layers during development to the reactive stromal microenvironment in cancer, tissue interactions are vital to maintaining healthy organ morphologic architecture and function. The stromal compartment is thought to be complicit in tumor progression and, as such, represents an opportune target for disease therapies. However, recent developments in our understanding of the diversity of the stromal compartment and the lack of appropriate models to study its relevance in human disease have limited our further understanding of the role of tissue interactions in tumor progression. The failure any model to fully recapitulate the complexities of systemic biology continue to create a higher imperative for incorporating various perspectives into a broader understanding for the ultimate goal of designing interventional therapies. Understanding this potential, this review examines the biological models used to study stromal-epithelial interactions and includes an attempt to incorporate behavioral terminology to define and mathematically model ecological relationships in stromal-epithelial interactions. In addition, the current attempt to incorporate these diverse ecological perspectives into in silico mathematical models through cross-disciplinary coordination is reviewed, which will provide a fresh perspective on defining cell group behavior and tissue ecology in disease and hopefully lead to the generation of new hypotheses to be empirically validated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology*