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Mol Imaging Biol. 2011 Jun;13(3):471-480. doi: 10.1007/s11307-010-0366-1.

Evidence for an additional metastatic route: in vivo imaging of cancer cells in the primo-vascular system around tumors and organs.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Chemistry, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Kyungbuk, South Korea.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea.



Researchers have been studying the mechanisms by which metastasis can be prevented via blocking the hematogenous and the lymphatic routes for a long time now. However, metastasis is still the single most challenging obstacle for successful cancer management. In a new twist that may require some retooling of this established approach, we investigated the hypothesis that tumor metastases can occur via an independent fluid-conducting system called the primo-vascular system.


The dissemination and growth of near-infrared quantum dot (NIR QD)-electroporated cancer cells in metastatic sites were investigated using in vivo multispectral imaging techniques.


Our results show that the NIR QD-labeled cancer cells were able to migrate through not only the blood vascular and lymphatic systems but also the primo-vascular system extending from around the tumor to inside the abdominal cavity. Furthermore, the NIR QD-labeled cancer cells, which had been seeded intraperitoneally, specifically infiltrated the primo-vascular system in the omentum and in the gonadal fat.


These findings strongly suggest that the primo-vascular system may be an additional metastasis route, complementing the lymphatic and hematogenous routes, which facilitate the dissemination and colonization of cancer cells at secondary sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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