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Title: Three-dimensional models of breast cancer–fibroblasts interactions
Tumor microenvironment is a complex niche consisting of cancer cells and stromal cells in a network of extracellular matrix proteins and various soluble factors. Dynamic interactions among cellular and non-cellular components of the tumor microenvironment regulate tumor initiation and progression. Fibroblasts are the most abundant stromal cell type and dynamically interact with cancer cells both in primary tumors and in metastases. Cancer cells activate resident fibroblasts to produce and secrete soluble signaling molecules that support proliferation, migration, matrix invasion, and drug resistance of cancer cell and tumor angiogenesis. In recent years, various forms of three-dimensional tumor models have been developed to study tumor–stromal interactions and to identify anti-cancer drugs that block these interactions. There is currently a technological gap in development of tumor models that are physiologically relevant, scalable, and allow convenient, on-demand addition of desired components of the tumor microenvironment. In this review, we discuss three studies from our group that focus on developing bioengineered models to study tumor-stromal signaling. We will present these studies chronologically and based on their increasing complexity. We will discuss the validation of the models using a CXCL12-CXCR4 chemokine-receptor signaling present among activated fibroblasts and breast cancer cells in solid tumors, highlight the advantages and shortcomings of the models, and conclude with our perspectives on their applications. Impact statement Tumor stroma plays an important role in progression of cancers to a fatal metastatic disease. Modern treatment strategies are considering targeting tumor stroma to improve outcomes for cancer patients. A current challenge to develop stroma-targeting therapeutics is the lack of preclinical physiologic tumor models. Animal models widely used in cancer research lack human stroma and are not amenable to screening of chemical compounds for cancer drug discovery. In this review, we outline in vitro three-dimensional tumor models that we have developed to study the interactions among cancer cells and stromal cells. We describe development of the tumor models in a modular fashion, from a spheroid model to a sophisticated organotypic model, and discuss the importance of using correct physiologic models to recapitulate tumor-stromal signaling. These biomimetic tumor models will facilitate understanding of tumor-stromal signaling biology and provide a scalable approach for testing and discovery of cancer drugs.  more » « less
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Experimental Biology and Medicine
Page Range / eLocation ID:
879 to 888
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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