Fibroblasts as modulators of local and systemic cancer metabolism

Hannah Sanford-Crane, Jaime Abrego, Mara H. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Fibroblast activation is an accompanying feature of solid tumor progression, resembling a conserved host response to tissue damage. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) comprise a heterogeneous and plastic population with increasingly appreciated roles in tumor growth, metastatic capacity, and response to therapy. Classical features of fibroblasts in a wound-healing response, including profound extracellular matrix production and cytokine release, are recapitulated in cancer. Emerging evidence suggests that fibroblastic cells in the microenvironments of solid tumors also critically modulate cellular metabolism in the neoplastic compartment through mechanisms including paracrine transfer of metabolites or non-cell-autonomous regulation of metabolic signaling pathways. These metabolic functions may represent common mechanisms by which fibroblasts stimulate growth of the regenerating epithelium during a wound-healing reaction, or may reflect unique co-evolution of cancer cells and surrounding stroma within the tumor microenvironment. Here we review the recent literature supporting an important role for CAFs in regulation of cancer cell metabolism, and relevant pathways that may serve as targets for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number619
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Cancer metabolism
  • Cancer-associated fibroblast
  • Tumor-stroma crosstalk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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