Tumours are complex tissues composed of both matrix proteins and stromal cells such as fibroblasts and inflammatory cells. Tumour progression is often the result of dynamic interactions between the tumour cells and their surroundings. Lycopene, a natural carotenoid that is abundant in tomato, has been shown to inhibit proliferation of several types of cancer cells through arrest of tumour cell-cycle progression, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) signalling transduction, induction of apoptosis etc. However, in our recent study, we found that lycopene inhibited PDGF-BB (platelet-derived growth factor-BB)-induced signalling and cell migration in human cultured skin fibroblasts through a novel mechanism of action, i.e. direct binding to PDGF-BB. Trapping of PDGF by lycopene also compromised melanoma-induced fibroblast migration and attenuated signalling transduction in fibroblasts simulated by melanoma-derived conditioned medium, suggesting that lycopene may interfere with tumour–stroma interactions. The trapping activity of lycopene on PDGF suggests that it may act as an inhibitor on stromal cells, tumour cells and their interactions, which may contribute to its anti-tumour activity.

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