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CXCR4: A Key Receptor In The Crosstalk Between Tumor Cells And Their Microenvironment.

J. Burger, T. Kipps
Published 2006 · Medicine, Biology

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Signals from the microenvironment have a profound influence on the maintenance and/or progression of hematopoietic and epithelial cancers. Mesenchymal or marrow-derived stromal cells, which constitute a large proportion of the non-neoplastic cells within the tumor microenvironment, constitutively secrete the chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12). CXCL12 secretion by stromal cells attracts cancer cells, acting through its cognate receptor, CXCR4, which is expressed by both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic tumor cells. CXCR4 promotes tumor progression by direct and indirect mechanisms. First, CXCR4 is essential for metastatic spread to organs where CXCL12 is expressed, and thereby allows tumor cells to access cellular niches, such as the marrow, that favor tumor-cell survival and growth. Second, stromal-derived CXCL12 itself can stimulate survival and growth of neoplastic cells in a paracrine fashion. Third, CXCL12 can promote tumor angiogenesis by attracting endothelial cells to the tumor microenvironment. CXCR4 expression is a prognostic marker in various types of cancer, such as acute myelogenous leukemia or breast carcinoma. Promising results in preclinical tumor models indicate that CXCR4 antagonists may have antitumor activity in patients with various malignancies. Collectively, these observations reveal that CXCR4 is an important molecule involved in the spread and progression of a variety of different tumors. As such, CXCR4 antagonists, although initially developed for treatment of AIDS, actually may become effective agents for the treatment of neoplastic disease.
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