Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 399–409 | Cite as

Mesenchymal Stem Cells in the Pathogenesis and Therapy of Breast Cancer

  • Christelle P. El-Haibi
  • Antoine E. Karnoub


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a heterogeneous mix of stromal stem cells that can give rise to cells of mesodermal lineages, namely adipocytes, osteocytes and chondrocytes. They can home to sites of injury where they promote the repair and regeneration of damaged tissues. MSCs also home to sites of tumorigenesis, and as such, are utilized as efficient cellular vehicles for the delivery of anti-neoplastic therapeutics. Recently, MSCs within the tumor microenvironment have been shown to contribute to the desmoplastic reaction and to facilitate tumor formation and progression, sparking renewed interest in their pro-tumorigenic attributes and their roles as tumor stromal cells. Here, we describe the evidence linking MSCs to inflammatory processes and breast cancer development, and discuss their newly discovered physiological roles in the context of the tumor microenvironment.


Bone marrow Mesenchymal stem cells MSC Breast cancer Stroma Recruitment Gene therapy Tumor progression Metastasis 



Colony forming unit-fibroblastic


Mesenchymal stem cell


Graft-versus-host disease




Cluster of differentiation


Human leukocyte antigen-DR


Major histocompatibility complex


NK-2 type homeodomain gene


Octamer binding transcription factor 4


Sex determining region Y-box 2


Tumor growth factor-β


Tumor growth factor-β receptor 1


Mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 3


Forkhead box p3


Inflammatory bowel disease


Matrix metalloproteinase


Monocyte-derived protein 1


Hepatoma-derived growth factor


Urokinase plasminogen activator


Urokinase plasminogen activator receptor


Histone deacetylase


Fibroblast growth factor 2


Vascular endothelial growth factor




Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3


C-C motif ligand 5


T helper 2


Stromal-cell derived factor 1


Conditionally replicating oncolytic adenoviruses


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand


Herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase


Cytosine deaminase





Our research is supported by start-up funds from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, T32 Institutional NRSA Research Training Grants, and the Sydney Kimmel Cancer Research Foundation. AEK is a 2010 Kimmel Scholar.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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