Friend or foe?: The tumour microenvironment dilemma in colorectal cancer

Tommaso Colangelo, G. Polcaro, L. Muccillo, G. D'Agostino, V. Rosato, P. Ziccardi, A. Lupo, G. Mazzoccoli, Lina Sabatino, Vittorio Colantuoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The network of bidirectional homotypic and heterotypic interactions established among parenchymal tumour cells and surrounding mesenchymal stromal cells generates the tumour microenvironment (TME). These intricate crosstalks elicit both beneficial and adverse effects on tumour initiation and progression unbalancing the signals and responses from the neighbouring cells. Here, we highlight the structure, activities and evolution of TME cells considering a novel colorectal cancer (CRC) classification based on differential stromal composition and gene expression profiles. In this scenario, we scrutinise the molecular pathways that either change or become corrupted during CRC development and their relative prognostic value. Finally, we survey the therapeutic molecules directed against TME components currently available in clinical trials as well as those with stronger potential in preclinical studies. Elucidation of dynamic variations in the CRC TME cell composition and their relative contribution could provide novel diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers and allow more personalised therapeutic strategies. © 2016
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • Cell-cell communications
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Immune cells
  • Stromal cells
  • Tumour microenvironment


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