Stellate Cells in the Tumor Microenvironment

  • David Roife
  • Bhaswati Sarcar
  • Jason B. FlemingEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1263)


As tumor microenvironments share many of the same qualities as chronic wounds, attention is turning to the wound-repair cells that support the growth of cancerous cells. Stellate cells are star-shaped cells that were first discovered in the perisinusoidal spaces in the liver and have been found to support wound healing by the secretion of growth factors and extracellular matrix. They have since been also found to serve a similar function in the pancreas. In both organs, the wound-healing process may become dysregulated and lead to pathological fibrosis (also known as cirrhosis in the liver). In recent years there has been increasing attention paid to the role of these cells in tumor formation and progression. They may be a factor in initiating the first steps of carcinogenesis such as with liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and also contribute to continued tumor growth, invasion, metastasis, evasion of the immune system, and resistance to chemotherapy, in cancers of both the liver and pancreas. In this chapter we aim to review the structure and function of hepatic and pancreatic stellate cells and their contributions to the tumor microenvironment in their respective cancers and also discuss potential new targets for cancer therapy based on our new understanding of these vital components of the tumor stroma.


Hepatic stellate cell Pancreatic stellate cell Cirrhosis Fibrosis Hepatocellular carcinoma Pancreatic adenocarcinoma Metastasis Alpha-smooth muscle actin Vitamin A Desmoplasia Epithelial-mesenchymal transition Sonic hedgehog 


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Roife
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bhaswati Sarcar
    • 2
  • Jason B. Fleming
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of South Florida Morsani College of MedicineTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Gastrointestinal OncologyH. Lee Moffitt Cancer CenterTampaUSA

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