The role of mesenchymal stem cells in cancer development

Front Genet. 2013 Nov 27:4:261. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2013.00261.


The role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in cancer development is still controversial. MSCs may promote tumor progression through immune modulation, but other tumor suppressive effects of MSCs have also beendescribed. The discrepancy between these results may arise from issues related to different tissue sources, individual donor variability, and injection timing of MSCs. The expression of critical receptors such as Toll-like receptor is variable a teach time point of treatment, which may also determine the effects of MSCs on tumor progression. However, factors released from malignant cells, as well as surrounding tissues and the vasculature, are still regarded as a "black box. " Thus, it is still difficult to clarify the specific role of MSCs in cancer development. Whether MSCs support or suppress tumor progression is currently unclear, but it is clear that systemically administered MSCs can be recruited and migrate toward tumors. These findings are important because they can be used as a basis for initiating studies to explore the incorporation of engineered MSCs as novel anti-tumor carriers, for the development of tumor-targeted therapies.

Keywords: cancer therapy; cytokines; epithelial mesenchymal transition; stem cell niche; stem cell transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review