Marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells: Role in epithelial tumor cell determination

Fernando A Fierro, Walter D. Sierralta, Maria J. Epuñan, José J. Minguell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Marrow stroma represents an advantageous environment for development of micrometastatic cells. Within the cellular structure of marrow stroma, mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have been postulated as an interacting target for disseminated cancer cells. The studies reported here were performed to gain more information on the interaction of the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 with human bone marrow-derived MSC cells and to investigate whether this interaction affects tumor cell properties. The results showed that after co-culture with MSC, changes were detected in the morphology, proliferative capacity and aggregation pattern of MCF-7 cells, but these parameters were not affected after the co-culture of MSC cells with a non-tumorigenic breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10. Since the indirect culture of MCF-7 with MSC or its products also resulted in functional changes in the tumor cells, we evaluated whether these effects could be attributed to growth factors produced by MSC cells. It was found that VEGF and IL-6 mimic the effects produced by MSC or its products on the proliferation and aggregation properties of MCF-7, cells, respectively. Thus, it seems that after entry of disseminated tumor cells into the marrow space, their proliferative and morphogenetic organization patterns are modified after interaction with distinct stromal cells and/or with specific signals from the marrow microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • breast cancer cells
  • marrow stroma
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • mesenchymal-epithelial cell interaction
  • micrometastases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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