Tumours are complex systems formed by cellular (malignant, immune, and endothelial cells, fibroblasts) and acellular components (extracellular matrix (ECM) constituents and secreted factors). A close interplay between these factors, collectively called the tumour microenvironment, is required to respond appropriately to external cues and to determine the treatment outcome. Cold plasma (here referred as ‘plasma’) is an emerging anticancer technology that generates a unique cocktail of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species to eliminate cancerous cells via multiple mechanisms of action. While plasma is currently regarded as a local therapy, it can also modulate the mechanisms of cell-to-cell and cell-to-ECM communication, which could facilitate the propagation of its effect in tissue and distant sites. However, it is still largely unknown how the physical interactions occurring between cells and/or the ECM in the tumour microenvironment affect the plasma therapy outcome. In this review, we discuss the effect of plasma on cell-to-cell and cell-to-ECM communication in the context of the tumour microenvironment and suggest new avenues of research to advance our knowledge in the field. Furthermore, we revise the relevant state-of-the-art in three-dimensional in vitro models that could be used to analyse cell-to-cell and cell-to-ECM communication and further strengthen our understanding of the effect of plasma in solid tumours.
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