Breast cancer stem cells, cytokine networks, and the tumor microenvironment

J Clin Invest. 2011 Oct;121(10):3804-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI57099. Epub 2011 Oct 3.


Many tumors, including breast cancer, are maintained by a subpopulation of cells that display stem cell properties, mediate metastasis, and contribute to treatment resistance. These cancer stem cells (CSCs) are regulated by complex interactions with the components of the tumor microenvironment - including mesenchymal stem cells, adipocytes, tumor associated fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and immune cells - through networks of cytokines and growth factors. Since these components have a direct influence on CSC properties, they represent attractive targets for therapeutic development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Female
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • Growth Substances