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Breast cancers activate stromal fibroblast-induced suppression of progenitors in adjacent normal tissue

Posted January 11, 2018 | Publications

Chatterjee S, Basak P, Buchel E, Safneck J, Murphy LC, Mowat M, Kung SK, Eirew P, Eaves CJ & Raouf A. Stem Cell Reports 10:196-211, 2018.


Human breast cancer cells are known to activate adjacent “normal-like” cells to enhance their own growth, but the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved are poorly understood. We now show by both phenotypic and functional measurements that normal human mammary progenitor cells are significantly under-represented in the mammary epithelium of patients’ tumor-adjacent tissue (TAT). Interestingly, fibroblasts isolated from TAT samples showed a reduced ability to support normal EGF-stimulated mammary progenitor cell proliferation in vitro via their increased secretion of transforming growth factor β. In contrast, TAT fibroblasts promoted the proliferation of human breastcancer cells when these were co-transplanted in immunodeficient mice. The discovery of a common stromal cell-mediated mechanism that has opposing growth-suppressive and promoting effects on normal and malignant human breast cells and also extends well beyond currently examined surgical margins has important implications for disease recurrence and its prevention.

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