Signaling Pathways Linking Stem Cells and Macrophages May Play Role in Breast Cancer

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania say they have discovered a new signaling exchange that mediates normal mammary gland development by regulating the mammary stem cell niche, which was not previously understood. The finding indicates that mammary gland stem cells communicate with macrophages using Delta-like-ligand 1 (Dll1), which is part of the Notch signaling pathway. The team found that this molecular chatter is essential for the survival of the mammary stem cells, which leads to mammary gland development. 

Because the Notch pathway and other molecular components of the communications between mammary stem cells and macrophages have been implicated in breast cancer genesis and spread, future research on the pathway in the context of cancer may bear crucial information for diagnosis and treatment. The current study (“ Notch Ligand Dll1 Mediates Cross-Talk between Mammary Stem Cells and the Macrophageal Niche ”) appears in Science .

"The stem cell niche ...