A revisited concept: Contact inhibition of growth. From cell biology to malignancy

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Abstract

In cell biology, contact inhibition refers to two different but closely related phenomena, contact inhibition of locomotion and contact inhibition of proliferation, exhibited by fibroblasts when in contact with one another. Normal fibroblasts migrate across the surface of a culture dish until they make contact with a neighboring cell. Further cell migration is then inhibited, and normal cells adhere to each other, forming an orderly array of cells on the culture dish surface. Tumor cells, in contrast, continue moving after contact with their neighbors, migrating over adjacent cells, and growing in disordered, multilayered patterns. Not only the movement but also the proliferation of many normal cells is inhibited by cell-cell contact, and cancer cells are characteristically insensitive to such contact inhibition.

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