Interactions between tumor cells and microenvironment in breast cancer: a new opportunity for targeted therapy

Cancer Sci. 2012 Mar;103(3):400-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2011.02183.x. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


Breast cancer remains the leading cause of morbidity and second-leading cause of death in women. Despite efforts to uncover new targeted therapies, a vast number of women die due to refractory or recurrent breast tumors. Most breast cancer studies have focused on the intrinsic characteristics of breast tumor cells, including altered growth, proliferation, and metabolism. However, emerging research suggests that the tumor microenvironment can substantially affect relapse rates and therapeutic responses. In this review, we discuss the interactions between the tumor and microenvironment in breast cancer, with regard to mutational profiles and altered metabolism that could serve as potential therapeutic targets. We also describe current technologies available to study these interactions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metformin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Metformin