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Cancer Res. 2007 Sep 1;67(17):8223-8.

Real-time imaging of tumor-cell shedding and trafficking in lymphatic channels.

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AntiCancer Inc, San Diego, CA 92111-3604, USA.


In the present report, we show real-time imaging of cancer cell trafficking in lymphatic vessels. Cancer cells labeled with both green fluorescent protein (GFP) in the nucleus and red fluorescent protein (RFP) in the cytoplasm or with GFP only or RFP only were injected into the inguinal lymph node of nude mice. The labeled cancer cells trafficked through lymphatic vessels where they were imaged via a skin flap in real time at the cellular level until they entered the axillary lymph node. The bright fluorescence of the cancer cells and the real-time microscopic imaging capability of the Olympus OV100 small-animal imaging system enabled imaging of the trafficking cancer cells in the lymphatics. Using this imaging strategy, two different cancer cell lines, one expressing GFP and the other expressing RFP, were simultaneously injected in the inguinal lymph node. Fluorescence imaging readily distinguished the two color-coded cell lines and their different abilities to survive in the lymphatic system. Using this imaging technology, we also investigated the role of pressure on tumor-cell shedding into lymphatic vessels. Pressure was generated by placing 25- and 250-g weights for 10 s on the bottom surface of a tumor-bearing footpad. Tumor cell fragments, single cells, and emboli shed from the footpad tumor were easily distinguished with the labeled cells and OV100 imaging system. Increasing pressure on the tumor increased the numbers of shed cells, fragments, and emboli. Pressure also deformed the shed emboli, increasing their maximum major axis. Imaging lymphatic trafficking of cancer cells can reveal critical steps of lymph node metastasis.

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