Tumor stroma: a complexity dictated by the hypoxic tumor microenvironment

Oncogene. 2014 Apr 3;33(14):1743-54. doi: 10.1038/onc.2013.121. Epub 2013 Apr 22.


A lot of effort has been done to study how cancer cells react to low-oxygen tension, a condition known as hypoxia. Indeed, abnormal and dysfunctional blood vessels in the tumor are incapable to restore oxygenation, therefore perpetuating hypoxia, which, in turn, will fuel tumor progression, metastasis and resistance to antitumor therapies. Nevertheless, how stromal components including blood and lymphatic endothelial cells, pericytes and fibroblasts, as well as hematopoietic cells, respond to low-oxygen tension in comparison with their normoxic counterparts has been a matter of investigation in the last few years only and, to date, this field of research remains poorly understood. In general, opposing phenotypes can arise from the same stromal component when embedded in different tumor microenvironments, and, vice versa, different stromal components can have opposite reaction to the same tumor microenvironment. In this article, we will discuss the emerging link between tumor stroma and hypoxia, and how this complexity is translated at the molecular level.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / pathology
  • Cell Hypoxia*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / pathology*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Pericytes / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stromal Cells / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • Oxygen