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Am J Pathol. 2006 Sep;169(3):1064-73.

Organ-specific metastatic tumor cell adhesion and extravasation of colon carcinoma cells with different metastatic potential.

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Molecular Biology Laboratory, Department of General Surgery, University Hospital Münster, Waldeyerstr. 1, 48149 Münster, Germany.


Adhesive and invasive characteristics appear to be crucial for organ-specific metastasis formation. Using intravital microscopy we investigated the relation between the metastatic potential of colon carcinoma cells and their adhesive and invasive behavior during early steps of metastasis within microvasculatures of rat liver, lung, intestine, skin, muscle, spleen, and kidney in vivo. Colon carcinoma cells with low (HT-29P), intermediate (KM-12C), and high (HT-29LMM, KM-12L4) metastatic potential were injected into nude or Sprague-Dawley rats. Initial interactions with host organ microvasculatures were semiquantitatively analyzed throughout 20 to 30 minutes. Circulating cells passed microvessels in all observed organs without size restriction. All cell lines showed high adhesion rates, independent from their metastatic potential, within liver and lung but very rarely in other organs. Diameters of involved microvessels were larger than diameters of adherent tumor cells. Cell extravasation of highly metastatic HT-29LMM and KM-12L4 cells into liver parenchyma was significantly higher compared to low metastatic cells (P<0.05). Our results indicate that colon carcinoma cells can arrest in target organs without size restriction. Cell adhesion of circulating tumor cells occurred in metastatic target organs only, likely attributable to specific interactions. Migration into target organs correlated with their metastatic potential.

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