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Keywords:

  • stroma;
  • invasion;
  • myofibroblast;
  • cross-signaling;
  • therapy

Abstract

Tissue integrity is maintained by the stroma in physiology. In cancer, however, tissue invasion is driven by the stroma. Myofibroblasts and cancer-associated fibroblasts are important components of the tumor stroma. The origin of myofibroblasts remains controversial, although fibroblasts and bone marrow-derived precursors are considered to be the main progenitor cells. Myofibroblast reactions also occur in fibrosis. Therefore, we wonder whether nontumorous myofibroblasts have different characteristics and different origins as compared to tumor-associated myofibroblasts. The mutual interaction between cancer cells and myofibroblasts is dependent on multiple invasive growth-promoting factors, through direct cell–cell contacts and paracrine signals. Since fibrosis is a major side effect of radiotherapy, we address the question how the main methods of cancer management, including chemotherapy, hormonotherapy and surgery affect myofibroblasts and by inference the surrogate endpoints invasion and metastasis. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.