This review focuses on the interaction between multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) and carcinoma and the possible use of MSCs in cell-based anticancer therapies. MSCs are present in multiple tissues and are defined as cells displaying the ability to differentiate in multiple lineages, including chondrocytes, osteoblasts, and adipocytes. Recent evidence also suggests that they could play a role in the progression of carcinogenesis and that MSCs could migrate toward primary tumors and metastatic sites. It is possible that MSCs could also be involved in the early stages of carcinogenesis through spontaneous transformation. In addition, it is thought that MSCs can modulate tumor growth and metastasis, although this issue remains controversial and not well understood. The immunosuppressive properties and proangiogenic properties of MSCs account, at least in part, for their effects on cancer development. On the other hand, cancer cells also have the ability to enhance MSC migration. This complex dialog between MSCs and cancer cells is certainly critical for the outcome of tumor development. Interestingly, several studies have shown that MSCs engineered to express antitumor factors could be an innovative choice as a cell-mediated gene therapy to counteract tumor growth. More evidence will be needed to understand how MSCs positively or negatively modulate carcinogenesis and to evaluate the safety of MSC use in cell-mediated gene strategies.
Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.