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The breast cancer microenvironment contains a variety of stromal cells that are widely implicated in worse patient outcomes. While many in vitro models of the breast tumor microenvironment have been published, only a small fraction of these feature adipocytes. Adipocytes are a cell type increasingly recognized to have complex functions in breast cancer. In this review, we examine findings from recent examples of in vitro experiments modeling adipocytes within the local breast tumor microenvironment. Both two-dimensional and three-dimensional models of adipocytes in the breast tumor microenvironment are covered in this review and both have uncovered interesting phenomena related to breast tumor progression. Certain aspects of breast cancer and associated adipocyte biology: extracellular matrix effects, cell-cell contact, and physiological mass transport can only be examined with a three-dimensional culture platform. Opportunities remain for innovative improvements to be made to in vitro models that further increase what is known about adipocytes during breast cancer progression.


David Mertz, Jason Sentosa, Gary Luker, Shuichi Takayama. Studying Adipose Tissue in the Breast Tumor Microenvironment In Vitro: Progress and Opportunities. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. 2020 Dec;17(6):773-785

PMID: 32939672

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