Bone marrow-derived fibroblasts are a functionally distinct stromal cell population in breast cancer

Yael Raz, Noam Cohen, Ophir Shani, Rachel E. Bell, Sergey V. Novitskiy, Lilach Abramovitz, Carmit Levy, Michael Milyavsky, Leonor Leider-Trejo, Harold L. Moses, Dan Grisaru, Neta Erez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are highly prominent in breast tumors, but their functional heterogeneity and origin are still largely unresolved. We report that bone marrow (BM)-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are recruited to primary breast tumors and to lung metastases and differentiate to a distinct subpopulation of CAFs. We show that BM-derived CAFs are functionally important for tumor growth and enhance angiogenesis via up-regulation of Clusterin. Using newly generated transgenic mice and adoptive BM transplantations, we demonstrate that BM-derived fibroblasts are a substantial source of CAFs in the tumor microenvironment. Unlike resident CAFs, BM-derived CAFs do not express PDG FRα, and their recruitment resulted in a decrease in the percentage of PDG FRα-expressing CAFs. Strikingly, decrease in PDG FRα in breast cancer patients was associated with worse prognosis, suggesting that BM-derived CAFs may have deleterious effects on survival. Therefore, PDG FRα expression distinguishes two functionally unique CAF populations in breast tumors and metastases and may have important implications for patient stratification and precision therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3075-3093
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


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