Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are one of the major players in tumor-stroma crosstalk. Findings in experimental studies suggest important roles for CAFs in regulation of tumor growth, metastasis and drug response (Hanahan and Coussens, 2012). Furthermore, their clinical relevance is supported by new findings from tumor analyses, demonstrating the prognostic and response-predictive significance of CAF-derived markers or gene signatures (Berdiel-hacer et al., 2014; Finak et al., 2008; Navab et al., 2011; Paulsson and Micke, 2014). CAFs are a heterogeneous pool of cell subsets with distinct functions which needs to be better defined by their marker expressions. The development of a methodology for the establishment of fibroblast primary cultures derived from human colon tumors allowed us to characterize their functional and molecular properties (Herrera et al., 2013). In addition, the different molecular mechanisms through which CAFs affect tumor growth and metastasis are still to be clarified. Therefore, functional and molecular characterization of the cancer-associated fibroblasts is essential to fully understand their role in tumor progression.
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