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Jpn J Pharmacol. 1997 Nov;75(3):215-42.

Cell adhesion molecules and cancer metastasis.

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  • 1Research Institute for Wakan-yaku, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Japan.


The adhesive interaction between tumor cells and host cells or the extracellular matrix plays a crucial role in metastasis formation. Therefore, understanding the mechanism controlling metastasis may assist in the development of antimetastatic therapy. We have used synthetic or recombinant polypeptide analogues containing the Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sequence found in the functional domains of fibronectin, such as poly(RGD) or CH-271, to regulate the mechanisms involved in cell adhesion during the metastatic process. Poly(RGD) inhibited experimental lung and liver metastasis effectively when coinjected i.v. with various types of tumors. In a model of spontaneous lung metastasis using the B16-BL6 melanoma, repeated administration of this polypeptide before or after surgical excision of the primary tumor resulted in a significant inhibition of tumor metastasis without affecting the growth of the primary tumor and substantially prolonged the survival time of mice. The mechanism responsible for the inhibition of tumor metastasis by the polypeptides is at least partly associated with the ability to interfere with cellular functions such as adhesiveness, motility and invasiveness in the process of metastasis. Combined treatment of the CH-271 fusion polypeptide and anticancer drugs, i.e., anti-adhesion therapy combined with chemotherapy, caused a marked inhibition of lung and liver metastasis of tumors as compared with either treatment alone or with the control. In contrast, the promotion of tumor cell interaction with immune cells via cell adhesion molecules, which differs from the anti-adhesive mechanism, may lead to the induction of anti-tumor immune responses and, consequently, to the inhibition of tumor metastasis. The transfection of the gene of the B7-1 adhesion molecule into tumor cells (B16-BL6 or K1735-M2 melanoma) resulted in the remarkable reduction of lung metastasis caused by the i.v. injection into mice. Immunization of B7-transfected tumor was effective as a tumor vaccine for preventing the metastasis of B7 negative original tumor cells. Thus, the regulation of the adhesive interaction with tumor cells may provide a new and promising approach for the control and prevention of cancer metastasis.

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