Mesenchymal stem cell signaling in cancer progression

Anja Torsvik*, Rolf Bjerkvig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Mesenchymal (multipotent) stem/stromal cells (MSCs) may affect cancer progression through a number of secreted factors triggering activation of various cell signaling pathways. Depending on receptor status, phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) status, or Wnt activation in the cancer cells, the signals may either result in increased growth and metastasis or lead to inhibition of growth with increased cell death. Thus, MSCs can play a dual role in cancer progression depending on the cellular context wherein they reside. The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway has a central role in regulating tumor growth, and several MSC secreted factors stimulate activation of this pathway. A comprehensive understanding of the signals regulating MSC-tumor cross-talk is highly important for the development of MSCs as potential therapeutic vehicles. Thus, the presented review focuses on factors released by MSCs and on the dual role they may have on various stages of tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Cancer
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • PI3K/Akt pathway
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • Tumor stroma


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