Adipose tissue and breast epithelial cells: a dangerous dynamic duo in breast cancer

Cancer Lett. 2012 Nov 28;324(2):142-51. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2012.05.019. Epub 2012 May 27.


Among the many different cell types surrounding breast cancer cells, the most abundant are those that compose mammary adipose tissue, mainly mature adipocytes and progenitors. New accumulating recent evidences bring the tumor-surrounding adipose tissue into the light as a key component of breast cancer progression. The purpose of this review is to emphasize the role that adipose tissue might play by locally affecting breast cancer cell behavior and subsequent clinical consequences arising from this dialog. Two particular clinical aspects are addressed: obesity that was identified as an independent negative prognostic factor in breast cancer and the oncological safety of autologous fat transfer used in reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients. This is preceded by the overall description of adipose tissue composition and function with special emphasis on the specificity of adipose depots and the species differences, key experimental aspects that need to be taken in account when cancer is considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / pathology*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Human / pathology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Paracrine Communication*
  • Signal Transduction