The Interplay of the Extracellular Matrix and Stromal Cells as a Drug Target in Stroma-Rich Cancers

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2020 Mar;41(3):183-198. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2020 Jan 31.


The tumor microenvironment (TME) is a complex neighborhood that consists of immune cells, fibroblasts, pericytes, adipocytes, endothelial and neuronal cells, and the extracellular matrix proteins. TME also consists of physical factors, such as oxygen availability, changing pH, interstitial fluid pressure, and tissue stiffness. As cancer progresses, the physical properties and the cells in the TME change significantly, impacting the efficacy of the therapies and modulating drug resistance. This has led to the development of several new treatments targeting the TME. This review focuses on recent advances on the role of TME in drug resistance, with a particular focus on the ongoing clinical trials aiming at disrupting the TME- and the extracellular matrix-mediated protection against therapies.

Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts; clinical trials; drug resistance; extracellular matrix; stroma-cancer crosstalk; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Stromal Cells
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations