Cellular and Molecular Biology



Extracellular matrix, biotensegrity and tumor microenvironment. An update and overview

Rosa Noguera1, Olga Alicia Nieto2, Irene Tadeo1, Fernando Fariñas3 and Tomás Álvaro4

1Pathology Department, Medical School, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain, 2University of Quindío, Quindío, Colombia, 3Pathology and Infectious Diseases Institute, Málaga, Spain and 4Pathology Service, Verge de la Cinta Hospital, Tortosa, Tarragona, Spain.

Offprint requests to: Dr Tomás Álvaro, Servicio de Anatomía Patológica, C/ Esplanetes 14, Hospital Verge de la Cinta, 43500 Tortosa, Tarragona, Spain. e-mail: talvaro.ebre.ics@gencat.cat

Summary. The extracellular matrix (ECM) constitutes a three-dimensional network that surrounds all cells, organs and tissues in the body. It forms a biophysical filter for protection, nutrition and cell innervation, as well as the medium for facilitating immune response, angiogenesis, fibrosis and tissue regeneration. It is the mechanism by which mechanical forces are transmitted to the basement membrane which, through the integrins, supports the tensegrity system and activates the epigenetic mechanisms of the cell. A review and update on current knowledge on this topic reveals how disturbance of the ECM leads to a loss of efficient filtering, nutrition, elimination, and cell denervation functions, in addition to loss of regeneration capacity and disorders in mechanotransduction. Furthermore, such disturbance results in a loss of substrate, and with it the ability to provide a proper immune response against tumor, toxic and infectious agents. Reciprocal communication between ECM stromal and parenchymatous cells directs gene expression. The oncogenic capacity of the stroma derives from the associated cells as well as from the tumor cells, the angiogenic microenvironment and from an alteration in tensegrity; all of which are dependent on the ECM. It has been shown that the malignant phenotype is reversible by correction of the altered cues of the ECM
. Histol Histopathol 27, 693-705 (2012)

Key words: Extracellular matrix, Pischinger basic system, Tensegrity, Desmoplasia, Cancer

DOI: 10.14670/HH-27.693