Epithelial-mesenchymal transition and breast cancer: Role, molecular mechanisms and clinical impact

Chiara Foroni, Massimo Broggini, Daniele Generali, Giovanna Damia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is defined by the loss of epithelial characteristics and the acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype. In this process, cells acquire molecular alterations that facilitate dysfunctional cell-cell adhesive interactions and junctions. These processes may promote cancer cell progression and invasion into the surrounding microenvironment. Such transformation has implications in progression of breast carcinoma to metastasis, and increasing evidences support most tumors contain a subpopulation of cells with stem-like and mesenchymal features that is resistant to chemotherapy. This review focuses on the physiological and pathological role of EMT process, its molecular related network, its putative role in the metastatic process and its implications in response/resistance to the current and/or new approaching drugs in the clinical management of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-697
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer stem cell
  • Epidermal-mesenchymal transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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