Intrinsic and Extrinsic Modulators of the Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition: Driving the Fate of Tumor Microenvironment

Edoardo D'Angelo, Rafael Soares Lindoso, Francesca Sensi, Salvatore Pucciarelli, Benedetta Bussolati, Marco Agostini, Federica Collino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an evolutionarily conserved process. In cancer, EMT can activate biochemical changes in tumor cells that enable the destruction of the cellular polarity, leading to the acquisition of invasive capabilities. EMT regulation can be triggered by intrinsic and extrinsic signaling, allowing the tumor to adapt to the microenvironment demand in the different stages of tumor progression. In concomitance, tumor cells undergoing EMT actively interact with the surrounding tumor microenvironment (TME) constituted by cell components and extracellular matrix as well as cell secretome elements. As a result, the TME is in turn modulated by the EMT process toward an aggressive behavior. The current review presents the intrinsic and extrinsic modulators of EMT and their relationship with the TME, focusing on the non-cell-derived components, such as secreted metabolites, extracellular matrix, as well as extracellular vesicles. Moreover, we explore how these modulators can be suitable targets for anticancer therapy and personalized medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1122
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 24 2020


  • epithelial to mesenchymal transition
  • extracellular matrix
  • extracellular vesicles
  • personalized medicine
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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