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Fibroblasts constitute a ubiquitous mesenchymal cell type and produce the extracellular matrix (ECM) of connective tissue, thereby providing the structural basis of various organs. Fibroblasts display differential transcriptional patterns unique to the organ of their origin and they can be activated by common stimuli such as transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) reside in the cancer tissue and contribute to cancer progression by influencing cancer cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis and tumor immunity. CAFs impact on the tumor microenvironment by remodeling the ECM and secreting soluble factors such as chemokines and growth factors. Differential expression patterns of molecular markers suggest heterogeneous features of CAFs in terms of their function, pathogenic role and cellular origin. Recent studies elucidated the bimodal action of CAFs on cancer progression and suggest a subgroup of CAFs with tumor-suppressive effects. This review attempts to describe cellular features of colorectal CAFs with an emphasis on their heterogeneity and functional diversity.


Naoya Miyashita, Akira Saito. Organ Specificity and Heterogeneity of Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts in Colorectal Cancer. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Oct 11;22(20)

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PMID: 34681633

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