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    Anti-cancer therapies usually focus on tumor cells, but non-tumor stromal components in the tumor microenvironment also play vital roles in tumor initiation and progression, which may be the prognostic factors and potential therapeutic targets. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are the essential component in the tumor environment, exhibiting high heterogeneity in their cell origin and phenotype with diverse functions that influence tumor angiogenesis, immune systems, and metabolism. Single-cell RNA sequencing and genetically engineered mouse models have increased our understanding of CAF diversity, and many subtypes have been defined. However, the precise functions of these subtypes need to be studied and validated. Studies of signaling pathways and epigenetic changes in CAFs facilitate understanding of the phenotypes of CAFs and the crosstalk between tumor cells and CAFs to provide potential therapeutic targets. Some clinical trials, including phase III trials targeting CAFs, have been performed recently. However, few of these trials have generated promising results, which indicates that the complexity of CAFs in the tumor microenvironment remains largely unknown, and in-depth investigations of CAFs should be performed. This review summarizes the research on CAFs, focusing on the heterogeneity of their phenotypes and functions, specific signaling pathways, and the therapeutic strategies involving CAFs. Additionally, we briefly discuss the current technologies commonly used in CAF studies and describe the challenges and future perspectives of CAF research. Copyright © 2024 The Chinese Medical Association, produced by Wolters Kluwer, Inc. under the CC-BY-NC-ND license.

    Citation

    Donger Zhou, Lei Zheng. Recent advances in cancer-associated fibroblast: Biomarkers, signaling pathways, and therapeutic opportunities. Chinese medical journal. 2024 Mar 20;137(6):638-650

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    PMID: 38420743

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