Mesenchymal stromal cells can regulate the immune response in the tumor microenvironment

Alessandro Poggi*, Massimo Giuliani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The tumor microenvironment is a good target for therapy in solid tumors and hematological malignancies. Indeed, solid tumor cells’ growth and expansion can influence neighboring cells’ behavior, leading to a modulation of mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) activities and remodeling of extracellular matrix components. This leads to an altered microenvironment, where reparative mechanisms, in the presence of sub-acute inflammation, are not able to reconstitute healthy tissue. Carcinoma cells can undergo epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), a key step to generate metastasis, these mesenchymal-like cells display the functional behavior of MSC. Furthermore, MSC can support the survival and growth of leukemic cells within bone marrow participating in the leukemic cell niche. Notably, MSC can inhibit the anti-tumor immune response through either carcinoma-associated fibroblasts or bone marrow stromal cells. Experimental data have indicated their relevance in regulating cytolytic effector lymphocytes of the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Herein, we will discuss some of the evidence in hematological malignancies and solid tumors. In particular, we will focus our attention on the means by which it is conceivable to inhibit MSC-mediated immune suppression and trigger anti-tumor innate immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Hematopoietic malignancies
  • Immune escape
  • Immune regulation
  • Innate immunity
  • Mesenchymal stromal cells
  • NK cells
  • γδ T cells


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