Mesenchymal stromal cells' role in tumor microenvironment: involvement of signaling pathways

Cancer Biol Med. 2017 May;14(2):129-141. doi: 10.20892/j.issn.2095-3941.2016.0033.


Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are adult multipotent stem cells residing as pericytes in various tissues and organs where they can differentiate into specialized cells to replace dying cells and damaged tissues. These cells are commonly found at injury sites and in tumors that are known to behave like " wounds that do not heal." In this article, we discuss the mechanisms of MSCs in migrating, homing, and repairing injured tissues. We also review a number of reports showing that tumor microenvironment triggers plasticity mechanisms in MSCs to induce malignant neoplastic tissue formation, maintenance, and chemoresistance, as well as tumor growth. The antitumor properties and therapeutic potential of MSCs are also discussed.

Keywords: Mesenchymal stromal cells; chemoresistance; homing; migration; signaling pathways; systemic circulation; tumor modulation.