Breast cancer tumors may recruit bone marrow cells for growth

By Tauren Dyson

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Breast cancer tumors can grow by recruiting other cells from bone marrow, lowering the chances of a patient's survival, a new study says.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that cells found in breast cancer tumors can strengthen themselves by pulling in non-cancerous fibroblasts originally formed in bone marrow called mesenchymal stromal cells, or MSCs.


"Our study shows that the recruitment of bone marrow-derived fibroblasts is important for promoting tumor growth, likely by enhancing blood vessel formation," Neta Erez, researcher at Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, said in a press release.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University tested mice with breast cancer and noticed many fibroblasts from MSCs within the tumor.

The fibroblasts produce a large number of clusterin, a protein that stimulates new blood vessel growth. Breast cancer tumors with these bone marrow-associated fibroblasts can therefore grow more blood vessels that allow them to develop more quickly than tumors without fibroblast interactions.

These fibroblasts in the mice also lack PDGFRα, an important cell signaling protein that many other cancer-linked fibroblasts contain.

Erez and her colleagues observed that human breast cancer tumors also have fibroblasts without PDGFRα, meaning human tumors may also pull in bone marrow cells.


"Understanding the function of these cancer-associated fibroblasts could form the basis of developing novel therapeutic manipulations that co-target bone marrow-derived fibroblasts as well as the cancer cells themselves," Erez said.

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