Mesenchymal Stem Cells During Tumor Formation and Dissemination

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1 Scopus citations


The tumor microenvironment (TME) is composed by malignant and non-malignant cells, all embedded in a dense extracellular matrix (ECM) rich with unstable vessels. Targeting TME components, especially those associated with the vasculature such as endothelial cells (ECs) and pericytes, has shown clinical benefits. The identity correlation between pericytes and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) has broadened the functional roles of these adult stem cells, now tightly involved in cancer biology. This review summarizes this involvement, focusing on their participation in: 1) skeletal primary malignancies; 2) formation of distant primary tumors; 3) intravasation of cancer cells at the primary tumors; and 4) extravasation of cancer cells at the target organ. Given their tropism to sites of injury and inflammation, bone marrow (BM)-derived MSC (BM-MSC) follow tumor-derived signals and participate in the formation of distant primary tumors, by repopulating their perivascular habitat and contributing to tumor growth. Thus, targeting primary tumor’s pericytes severely reduces growth, yet dissemination of constitutive cancer cells increases. The impact of pericyte-deficient coverage on the target organ is rather opposite, generating a selective reduction of cancer cell invasion in some organs. These roles seem to be founded on the distinct molecular communication and physical interactions between MSC as pericytes and the cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Stem Cell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Cancer dissemination
  • Extravasation
  • Intravasation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC)
  • Pericytes
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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