The Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in the Development and Metastasis of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Nov 11;22(22):12216. doi: 10.3390/ijms222212216.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive tumor mainly associated with asbestos exposure and is characterized by a very difficult pharmacological approach. One of the molecular mechanisms associated with cancer onset and invasiveness is the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), an event induced by different types of inducers, such as transforming growth factor β (TGFβ), the main inducer of EMT, and oxidative stress. MPM development and metastasis have been correlated to EMT; On one hand, EMT mediates the effects exerted by asbestos fibers in the mesothelium, particularly via increased oxidative stress and TGFβ levels evoked by asbestos exposure, thus promoting a malignant phenotype, and on the other hand, MPM acquires invasiveness via the EMT event, as shown by an upregulation of mesenchymal markers or, although indirectly, some miRNAs or non-coding RNAs, all demonstrated to be involved in cancer onset and metastasis. This review aims to better describe how EMT is involved in driving the development and invasiveness of MPM, in an attempt to open new scenarios that are useful in the identification of predictive markers and to improve the pharmacological approach against this aggressive cancer.

Keywords: epithelial mesenchymal transition; malignant pleural mesothelioma; miRNAs; oxidative stress; transforming growth factor β.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition*
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant / metabolism*
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant / pathology
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant / therapy
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Pleural Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / therapy
  • RNA, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta