Plasticity of tumor cell invasion: governance by growth factors and cytokines

Carcinogenesis. 2016 Dec;37(12):1117-1128. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgw098. Epub 2016 Sep 23.


Tumor cell migration, the basis for metastatic dissemination, is an adaptive process which depends upon coordinated cell interaction with the environment, influencing cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesion, cytoskeletal dynamics and extracellular matrix remodeling. Growth factors and cytokines, released within the reactive tumor microenvironment and their intracellular effector signals strongly impact mechanocoupling functions in tumor cells and thereby control the mode and extent of tumor invasion, including collective and single-cell migration and their interconversions. Besides their role in controlling tumor cell growth and survival, cytokines and growth factors thus provide complex orchestration of the metastatic cascade and tumor cell adaptation to environmental challenge. We here review the mechanisms by which growth factors and cytokines control the reciprocal interactions between tumor cells and their microenvironment, and the consequences for the efficacy and plasticity of invasion programs and metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Extracellular Matrix / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics


  • Cytokines
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins