Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) exhibit tropism for sites of tissue damage as well as the tumor microenvironment. Many of the same inflammatory mediators that are secreted by wounds are found in the tumor microenvironment and are thought to be involved in attracting MSC to these sites. Cell migration is dependent on a multitude of signals ranging from growth factors to chemokines secreted by injured cells and/or respondent immune cells. MSC are likely to have chemotactic properties similar to other immune cells that respond to injury and sites of inflammation. Thus, the well-described model of leukocyte migration can serve as a reasonable example to facilitate the identification of factors involved in MSC migration. Understanding the factors involved in regulating MSC migration to tumors is essential to ultimately develop novel clinical strategies aimed at using MSC as vehicles to deliver antitumor proteins or suppress MSC migration to reduce tumor growth. For example, radiation enhances inflammatory signaling in the tumor microenvironment and may be used to potentiate site-specific MSC migration. Alternatively, restricting the migration of the MSC to the tumor microenvironment may prevent competent tumor-stroma formation, thereby hindering the growth of the tumor. In this review, we will discuss the role of inflammatory signaling in attracting MSC to tumors.
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