Stromal regulation of epithelial function

  • Annemarie A. Donjacour
  • Gerald R. Cunha
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 53)


Stromal influences upon epithelia are part of a continuum of cellular interactions that begins at fertilization and extends into adulthood. In parenchymal organs, the most thoroughly characterized interactions have been those that occur during development between mesenchyme, embryonic stroma, and epithelium. Mesenchyme is essential for epithelial proliferation, morphogenesis, and differentiation. Hormones affect stromal-epithelial interactions, and in some cases, steroid hormones may produce their effects on the epithelium indirectly, acting via the mesenchyme. In many adult organs the epithelia continually proliferate and differentiate and consequently may be considered developing systems within the mature organism. This is especially true in organs with a rapidly renewing epithelium, such as the intestine, and in organs that have cycles of functional activity, such as those of the female reproductive system. The mechanisms by which stroma affects epithelial structure and function are not well understood. Current models of how signaling may be accomplished include transmission via diffusible substances, via the extracellular matrix (ECM), and via direct cell—cell contact. Growth factors and organ-specific paracrine factors are candidates for stromal cues that affect the epithelium in some systems. Components of the ECM appear to play a role in permissive interactions and may affect epithelial function by changing cell shape or by binding ECM to the cell surface integrin receptors. Signaling via direct stromal-epithelial contact may be accomplished via interactions between complimentary cell surface adhesion molecules. The importance of stromal-epithelial interactions is reemphasized by several models of carcinogenesis that suggest that perturbations in these interactions may be involved in tumor progression.


Androgen Receptor Sertoli Cell Vaginal Epithelium Uterine Epithelium Urogenital Sinus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annemarie A. Donjacour
  • Gerald R. Cunha

There are no affiliations available

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