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Breast Cancer Res. 2000;2(6):417-22. Epub 2000 Aug 11.

Molecular biology of breast cancer metastasis. Molecular expression of vascular markers by aggressive breast cancer cells.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa Cancer Center, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.


During embryogenesis, the formation of primary vascular networks occurs via the processes of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. In uveal melanoma, vasculogenic mimicry describes the 'embryonic-like' ability of aggressive, but not nonaggressive, tumor cells to form networks surrounding spheroids of tumor cells in three-dimensional culture; these recapitulate the patterned networks seen in patients' aggressive tumors and correlates with poor prognosis. The molecular profile of these aggressive tumor cells suggests that they have a deregulated genotype, capable of expressing vascular phenotypes. Similarly, the embryonic-like phenotype expressed by the aggressive human breast cancer cells is associated with their ability to express a variety of vascular markers. These studies may offer new insights for consideration in breast cancer diagnosis and therapeutic intervention strategies.

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