The stroma reaction myofibroblast: a key player in the control of tumor cell behavior
Published: 1 September 2004
Alexis Desmoulière1, Christelle
Guyot1 and Giulio Gabbiani2
1Groupe de Recherches pour l'Etude du Foie, INSERM E0362, and Institut Fédératif de Recherche 66, Pathologies Infectieuses et
Cancers, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux, France and
2Department of Pathology, Centre Médical Universitaire, Geneva, Switzerland.
The cooperation between epithelial and mesenchymal cells is essential for
embryonic development and probably plays an important role in pathological phenomena such as
wound healing and tumor progression. It is well known that many epithelial tumors are characterized
by the local accumulation of connective tissue cells and extracellular material; this phenomenon
has been called the stroma reaction. One of the cellular components of the stroma reaction is
the myofibroblast, a modulated fibroblast which has acquired the capacity to neoexpress
α-smooth muscle actin, the actin isoform typical of vascular smooth muscle cells, and to synthesize important amounts of collagen and other extracellular matrix components. It is now well accepted that the myofibroblast is a key cell for the connective tissue remodeling which takes place during wound healing and fibrosis development. Myofibrobasts are capable of remodeling connective tissue but also interact with epithelial cells and other connective tissue cells and may thus control such phenomena as tumor invasion and angiogenesis. In this review we discuss the mechanisms of myofibroblast evolution during fibrotic and malignant conditions and the interaction
of myofibroblasts with other cells in order to control tumor progression. On this basis we suggest
that the myofibroblast may represent a new important target of antitumor therapy.