Stromal cells in breast cancer as a potential therapeutic target

Samantha S. Dykes _, Veronica S. Hughes, Jennifer M. Wiggins, Henrietta O. Fasanya, Mai Tanaka and Dietmar Siemann

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:23761-23779. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25245

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Samantha S. Dykes1, Veronica S. Hughes1, Jennifer M. Wiggins1, Henrietta O. Fasanya1, Mai Tanaka1 and Dietmar Siemann1

1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Correspondence to:

Samantha S. Dykes, email: [email protected]

Keywords: breast cancer; microenvironment; stromal cells

Received: February 21, 2018     Accepted: April 04, 2018     Published: May 04, 2018


Breast cancer in the United States is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death. In pursuit of novel therapeutic strategies, researchers have examined the tumor microenvironment as a potential anti-cancer target. In addition to neoplastic cells, the tumor microenvironment is composed of several critical normal cell types, including fibroblasts, vascular and lymph endothelial cells, osteoclasts, adipocytes, and immune cells. These cells have important roles in healthy tissue stasis, which frequently are altered in tumors. Indeed, tumor-associated stromal cells often contribute to tumorigenesis, tumor progression, and metastasis. Consequently, these host cells may serve as a possible target in anti-tumor and anti-metastatic therapeutic strategies. Targeting the tumor associated host cells offers the benefit that such cells do not mutate and develop resistance in response to treatment, a major cause of failure in cancer therapeutics targeting neoplastic cells. This review discusses the role of host cells in the tumor microenvironment during tumorigenesis, progression, and metastasis, and provides an overview of recent developments in targeting these cell populations to enhance cancer therapy efficacy.

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