Cancer-associated fibroblasts: an emerging target of anti-cancer immunotherapy

J Hematol Oncol. 2019 Aug 28;12(1):86. doi: 10.1186/s13045-019-0770-1.


Among all the stromal cells that present in the tumor microenvironment, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are one of the most abundant and critical components of the tumor mesenchyme, which not only provide physical support for tumor cells but also play a key role in promoting and retarding tumorigenesis in a context-dependent manner. CAFs have also been involved in the modulation of many components of the immune system, and recent studies have revealed their roles in immune evasion and poor responses to cancer immunotherapy. In this review, we describe our current understanding of the tumorigenic significance, origin, and heterogeneity of CAFs, as well as the roles of different CAFs subtypes in distinct immune cell types. More importantly, we highlight potential therapeutic strategies that target CAFs to unleash the immune system against the tumor.

Keywords: Cancer immunotherapy; Cancer-associated fibroblasts; Heterogeneity; Immune suppression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / immunology*
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*