Tumor Microenvironment Uses a Reversible Reprogramming of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells to Mediate Pro-tumorigenic Effects

Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 Nov 19;8:545126. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2020.545126. eCollection 2020.


The role of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in the tumor microenvironment is well described. Available data support that MSCs display anticancer activities, and that their reprogramming by cancer cells in the tumor microenvironment induces their switch toward pro-tumorigenic activities. Here we discuss the recent evidence of pro-tumorigenic effects of stromal cells, in particular (i) MSC support to cancer cells through the metabolic reprogramming necessary to maintain their malignant behavior and stemness, and (ii) MSC role in cancer cell immunosenescence and in the establishment and maintenance of immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. We also discuss the mechanisms of tumor microenvironment mediated reprogramming of MSCs, including the effects of hypoxia, tumor stiffness, cancer-promoting cells, and tumor extracellular matrix. Finally, we summarize the emerging strategies for reprogramming tumor MSCs to reactivate anticancer functions of these stromal cells.

Keywords: anticancer effects; reprogramming; stromal cells; tumor microenvironment; tumorigenic effects.

Publication types

  • Review