Key participants of the tumor microenvironment of the prostate: An approach of the structural dynamic of cellular elements and extracellular matrix components during epithelial-stromal transition
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Cancer is a multistep process that begins with the transformation of normal epithelial cells and continues with tumor growth, stromal invasion and metastasis. The remodeling of the peritumoral environment is decisive for the onset of tumor invasiveness. This event is dependent on epithelial–stromal interactions, degradation of extracellular matrix components and reorganization of fibrillar components. Our research group has studied in a new proposed rodent model the participation of cellular and molecular components in the prostate microenvironment that contributes to cancer progression. Our group adopted the gerbil Meriones unguiculatus as an alternative experimental model for prostate cancer study. This model has presented significant responses to hormonal treatments and to development of spontaneous and induced neoplasias. The data obtained indicate reorganization of type I collagen fibers and reticular fibers, synthesis of new components such as tenascin and proteoglycans, degradation of basement membrane components and elastic fibers and increased expression of metalloproteinases. Fibroblasts that border the region, apparently participate in the stromal reaction. The roles of each of these events, as well as some signaling molecules, participants of neoplastic progression and factors that promote genetic reprogramming during epithelial–stromal transition are also discussed.