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Int J Cancer. 2000 Apr 1;86(1):30-9.

Nitric oxide promotes murine mammary tumour growth and metastasis by stimulating tumour cell migration, invasiveness and angiogenesis.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The contributory role of nitric oxide (NO) on tumour growth and metastasis was evaluated in a murine mammary tumour model. NO synthase (NOS) protein expression levels were examined in spontaneously arising C3H/HeJ mammary adenocarcinomas and respective lung metastases. In addition, 2 clonal derivatives of a single spontaneous tumour differing in metastatic phenotype (C3L5 and C10; highly and weakly metastatic, respectively) were utilised to investigate (i) the relationship between NOS expression levels and the biological behaviour of tumour cells (e.g., in vitro migratory and invasive capacities, in vivo tumour growth rate and metastatic and angiogenic capacities) and (ii) whether tumour-derived NO stimulated the invasive, migratory and angiogenic capacities of tumour cells. A heterogeneous pattern of endothelial NOS (eNOS) expression was observed in tumour cells in spontaneous primary tumours, and eNOS expression was higher in undifferentiated relative to differentiated tumour zones. However, tumour cells in lung metastatic sites were always strongly eNOS-positive, suggesting that eNOS expression facilitated metastasis. Findings using clonal derivatives supported this notion; s.c. primary tumour growth rate, efficiency of spontaneous metastasis and eNOS expression were higher for C3L5 relative to C10 cell lines. Nevertheless, lung metastases derived from both tumour cell lines were always strongly and homogeneously eNOS-positive. C3L5 cells were more invasive than C10 cells in vitro, but the migratory capacities of the cell lines did not differ. However, migration and invasiveness of both cell lines were inhibited with L-NAME and restored with excess L-arginine. Tumour-associated angiogenesis, measured in Matrigel implants inclusive of tumour cells, was higher for C3L5 relative to C10 cells, and C3L5-induced angiogenesis was reduced with chronic L-NAME treatment of host animals. These findings suggest that tumour-derived eNOS promoted tumour growth and metastasis by multiple mechanisms: stimulation of tumour cell migration, invasiveness and angiogenesis.

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