Metastasis is facilitated by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) in the tumor microenvironment through mechanisms yet to be elucidated. In this study, we used a size-based microfilter technology developed by our group to examine whether circulating CAF identified by FAP and α-SMA co-expression (cCAF) could be distinguished in the peripheral blood of patients with metastatic breast cancer. In a pilot study of patients with breast cancer, we detected the presence of cCAFs in 30/34 (88%) patients with metastatic disease (MET group) and in 3/13 (23%) patients with localized breast cancer (LOC group) with long-term disease-free survival. No cCAFs as defined were detected in healthy donors. Further, both cCAF and circulating tumor cells (CTC) were significantly greater in the MET group compared with the LOC group. Thus, the presence of cCAF was associated with clinical metastasis, suggesting that cCAF may complement CTC as a clinically relevant biomarker in metastatic breast cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research