Send to

Choose Destination
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1131:225-34. doi: 10.1196/annals.1413.020.

Molecular control of lymphatic metastasis.

Author information

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria 3050, Melbourne, Australia.


The metastatic spread of tumor cells is the most lethal aspect of cancer and often occurs via the lymphatic vasculature. Both experimental tumor models and human clinicopathologic data indicate that growth of lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) near solid tumors is often associated with lymph node metastasis. Changes in the adhesive properties of lymphatic endothelium near tumors may also facilitate metastatic spread via the lymphatics. Lymphangiogenic growth factors have been identified that promote formation of tumor lymphatics and metastatic spread of tumor cells to lymph nodes. These include the secreted glycoproteins vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) and VEGF-D, which act via their cognate receptor tyrosine kinase VEGF receptor-3 (VEGFR-3) located on lymphatic endothelial cells. Other signaling molecules that have been reported to promote lymphangiogenesis and/or lymphatic metastasis in cancer include VEGF-A, platelet-derived growth factor-BB, and hepatocyte growth factor. However, the quantitative contribution of these proteins to tumor lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis in different tumor types requires further investigation. In addition, chemokines are thought to play a role in attracting tumor cells and lymphatic vessels to each other. Moreover, it has recently been shown that lymphangiogenic growth factors secreted from a primary tumor can induce lymphangiogenesis in nearby lymph nodes, even before arrival of tumor cells, which may facilitate further metastasis. This article provides an overview of the molecular mechanisms that control lymphatic metastasis and discusses potential therapeutic approaches for inhibiting this process in human cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center