Targeting the microenvironment in solid tumors

Cancer Treat Rev. 2018 Apr;65:22-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2018.02.004. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


Tumorigenesis is a complex and dynamic process involving different cellular and non-cellular elements composed of tumor microenvironment (TME). The interaction of TME with cancer cells is responsible for tumor development, progression and drug resistance. TME consists of non malignant cells of the tumor such as cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs), endothelial cells and pericytes composing tumor vasculature, immune and inflammatory cells, bone marrow derived cells, and the extracellular matrix (ECM) establishing a complex cross-talk with tumor. These interactions contribute towards proliferation and invasion of the tumor by producing growth factors, chemokines and matrix-degrading enzymes. ECM is a complex system containing macromolecules with distinctive physical, biochemical and biomechanical properties. During tumorigenesis this system is deregulated favoring the generation of tumorigenic microenvironment enhancing tumor-associated angiogenesis and inflammation. An important step of anticancer treatment is the identification of the biological alterations present in TME in order to target these key molecular players. Multitargeted approaches, providing a simultaneous inhibition of TME components, may offer a more efficient way to treat cancer. In this manuscript we overview the function of each components of TME and the treatments targeting the key players.

Keywords: Bone marrow derived cells; Cancer-associated fibroblasts; Endothelial cells; Extracellular matrix; Immune cells; Tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tumor Microenvironment*