P Gandellini, F Andriani, G Merlino, F D'Aiuto, L Roz, M Callari
Semin Cancer Biol
Cancer is a complex disease, driven by the accumulation of several somatic aberrations but fostered by a two-way interaction between tumour cells and the surrounding microenvironment. Cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) represent one of the major players in tumour-stroma crosstalk. Recent in vitro and in vivo studies, often conducted by employing high throughput approaches, have started unravelling the key pathways involved in their functional effects. This review focus on open challenges in the study of CAF properties and function, highlighting at the same time the existence of common mechanisms as well as peculiarities in different cancer types (breast, prostate and lung cancer). Although still limited by current experimental models, which are unable to deal with the full level of complexity of the tumour microenvironment, a better understanding of these mechanisms may enable the identification of new biomarkers and therapeutic targets, to improve current strategies for cancer diagnosis and treatment.