Institute Hiscia, Society for Cancer Research, CH-4144 Arlesheim/Switzerland.
Cancer cells express epithelial markers, and when progressing in malignancy they may express markers of the mesenchymal cell type. Therefore an epithelial-mesenchymal transition of the cancer cells is assumed. However the mesenchymal markers can equally well be interpreted as myeloid markers since they are common in both types of cell lineages. Moreover, cancer cells express multiple specific markers of the myeloid lineages thus giving rise to the hypothesis that the transition of cancer cells may be from epithelial to myeloid cells and not to mesenchymal cells. This interpretation would better explain why cancer cells, often already in their primary cancer site, frequently show properties common to those of macrophages, platelets and pre-/osteoclasts.
Keywords: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, epithelial-myeloid transition, osteomimetic properties of cancer cells, macrophage and platelet traits of cancer cells, common clusters of differentiation between cancer cells and cells of the myeloid lineage