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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4824573, 11 pages
Review Article

Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells in Stromal Evolution and Cancer Progression

IRCCS SDN, Via Emanuele Gianturco 113, 80431 Naples, Italy

Received 29 June 2015; Revised 27 August 2015; Accepted 1 September 2015

Academic Editor: Eva Mezey

Copyright © 2016 Francesca Cammarota and Mikko O. Laukkanen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The study of cancer biology has mainly focused on malignant epithelial cancer cells, although tumors also contain a stromal compartment, which is composed of stem cells, tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs), endothelial cells, immune cells, adipocytes, cytokines, and various types of macromolecules comprising the extracellular matrix (ECM). The tumor stroma develops gradually in response to the needs of epithelial cancer cells during malignant progression initiating from increased local vascular permeability and ending to remodeling of desmoplastic loosely vascularized stromal ECM. The constant bidirectional interaction of epithelial cancer cells with the surrounding microenvironment allows damaged stromal cell usage as a source of nutrients for cancer cells, maintains the stroma renewal thus resembling a wound that does not heal, and affects the characteristics of tumor mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs). Although MSCs have been shown to coordinate tumor cell growth, dormancy, migration, invasion, metastasis, and drug resistance, recently they have been successfully used in treatment of hematopoietic malignancies to enhance the effect of total body irradiation-hematopoietic stem cell transplantation therapy. Hence, targeting the stromal elements in combination with conventional chemotherapeutics and usage of MSCs to attenuate graft-versus-host disease may offer new strategies to overcome cancer treatment failure and relapse of the disease.