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Int J Cancer. 2011 Apr 15;128(8):1751-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25781.

Multiple uses of basement membrane-like matrix (BME/Matrigel) in vitro and in vivo with cancer cells.

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Trevigen Inc., Gaithersburg, MD, USA.


Significant advances in our understanding of cancer cell behavior, growth, and metastasis have been facilitated by studies using a basement membrane-like extracellular matrix extract, also known as Matrigel. The basement membrane is a thin extracellular matrix that is found in normal tissues and contacts epithelial and endothelial cells, smooth muscle, fat, Schwann cells, etc. It is composed of mainly laminin-111, collagen IV, heparan sulfate proteoglycan, entactin/nidogen, and various growth factors (fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, epidermal growth factor, etc.). Most tumors of epithelial origin produce significant amounts of basement membrane matrix and interact with it particularly during metastasis. Cancer cells metastasize via degradation of the vessel basement membrane matrix to extravasate into the blood stream and colonize distant sites. This review will focus on the interaction of cancer cells and cancer stem cells with the basement membrane-like matrix and the various uses of this interaction to accelerate tumor growth in vivo and to develop in vitro assays for invasion, morphology, and dormancy. Such assays and methods have advanced our understanding of the process of cancer progression, the genes and pathways that are involved, the potential of various therapeutic agents, the effects of neighboring cells, and the role of stem cells.

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