Pathogenesis of tumor stroma generation: a critical role for leaky blood vessels and fibrin deposition

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1989 Feb;948(3):305-26. doi: 10.1016/0304-419x(89)90004-8.


Tumor stroma formation results from the interaction of tumor cells and their products with the host and certain of its normal defense mechanisms, particularly the clotting and fibrinolytic systems. It is a process in which tumor cells render local venules and veins hyperpermeable with the result that fibrinogen and other proteins extravasate and clot, forming an extravascular crosslinked fibrin gel. Coagulation is mediated by an interaction between extravasated plasma clotting factors and tumor-associated and perhaps other tissue procoagulants. Parallel activation of the fibrinolytic system leads to substantial fibrin turnover, but fibrin nonetheless accumulates in amounts, variable from tumor to tumor, that are sufficient to provide a provisional stroma. This provisional stroma imposes on tumor cells a structure that persists even as tumor cells multiply and as the fibrin provisional stroma is replaced by mature connective tissue. The provisional fibrin stroma also serves to regulate the influx of macrophages, and perhaps other inflammatory cells, but at the same time, and in ways that are not fully understood, facilitates the inward migration of new blood vessels and fibroblasts, integral components of mature tumor stroma. Ascites tumors differ from solid tumors in that fibrin gel is not ordinarily deposited in body cavities and, as a result, there is no provisional stroma to impose an initial structure. Tumor stroma generation resembles the process of wound healing in many respects. However, it differs in the mechanism of its initiation, and in the apparent lack of a role for platelets. It also differs fundamentally in that invading tumor cells continually render new vessels hyperpermeable to plasma, thus perpetuating the cycle of extravascular fibrin deposition. In this sense, tumors behave as wounds that do not heal. Largely neglected in this review has been discussion of the numerous cytokines, mitogens, and growth factors that are widely believed to play important roles in tumor angiogenesis and wound healing; i.e., PDGF, FGF, EGF, TGF alpha, TGF beta, TNF, interferons, etc. This omission has been intentional, and for two reasons. First, these cytokines have already received considerable attention [100,123-128]. Second, it is not yet clear how closely the actions of these molecules, as described in vitro, relate to their functions in vivo. At present we are deluged with a surfeit of factors that have the capacity to induce new blood vessel formation in angiogenesis assays; these factors include not only peptides but lipids and even ions [126,129-131].(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Capillary Permeability*
  • Fibrin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic


  • Blood Proteins
  • Fibrin