Solid tumors consist of the tumor parenchyma and stroma. The standard concept of oncology is that the tumor parenchyma regulates the tumor stroma and promotes tumor progression, and that the tumor parenchyma represents the tumor itself and defines the biological characteristics of the tumor tissue. Thus, the tumor stroma plays a pivotal role in assisting tumor parenchymal growth and invasiveness and is regarded as a supporter of the tumor parenchyma. The tumor parenchyma and stroma interact with each other. However, the influence of the stroma on the parenchyma is not clear. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the effect of the stroma on the parenchyma in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). We isolated tumor stroma from two types of OSCCs with different invasiveness (endophytic type OSCC (ED-st) and exophytic type OSCC (EX-st)) and examined the effect of the stroma on the parenchyma in terms of proliferation, invasion, and morphology by co-culturing and co-transplanting the OSCC cell line (HSC-2) with the two types of stroma. Both types of stroma were partially positive for alpha-smooth muscle actin. The tumor stroma increased the proliferation and invasion of tumor cells and altered the morphology of tumor cells in vitro and in vivo. ED-st exerted a greater effect on the tumor parenchyma in proliferation and invasion than EX-st. Morphological analysis showed that ED-st changed the morphology of HSC-2 cells to the invasive type of OSCC, and EX-st altered the morphology of HSC-2 cells to verrucous OSCC. This study suggests that the tumor stroma influences the biological characteristics of the parenchyma and that the origin of the stroma is strongly associated with the biological characteristics of the tumor.
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