TGF-beta in CAF-mediated tumor growth and metastasis

Semin Cancer Biol. 2014 Apr;25:15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2013.12.008. Epub 2014 Jan 7.


TGF-beta signaling is one of the major pathways controlling cell and tissue behavior not only in homeostasis but also in disease. During tumorigenesis TGF-beta orchestrated processes are key due to its dual role as tumor suppressor and tumor promoter. Important functions of this pathway have been described in a context-dependent manner both in epithelial cancer cells and in the tumor microenvironment during tumor progression. Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are one of the most abundant stromal cell types in virtually all solid tumors. CAFs favor malignant progression by providing cancer cells with proliferative, migratory, survival and invasive capacities. A complex network of signaling pathways underlying their tumor-promoting properties is beginning to take shape. In this review, we examine current evidence on the emerging mechanisms involving TGF-beta in CAF-mediated cancer progression, and discuss their potential as therapeutic targets.

Keywords: Cancer-associated fibroblast; Metastasis; Stroma; TGF-beta; Tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Paracrine Communication
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Tumor Burden
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta