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Cancer Sci. 2017 Oct;108(10):1921-1926. doi: 10.1111/cas.13336. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Tumor endothelial cells accelerate tumor metastasis.

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Vascular Biology, Frontier Research Unit, Institute for Genetic Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


Tumor metastasis is the main cause of cancer-related death. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying tumor metastasis is crucial to control this fatal disease. Several molecular pathways orchestrate the complex biological cell events during a metastatic cascade. It is now well known that bidirectional interaction between tumor cells and their microenvironment, including tumor stroma, is important for tumor progression and metastasis. Tumor stromal cells, which acquire their specific characteristics in the tumor microenvironment, accelerate tumor malignancy. The formation of new blood vessels, termed as tumor angiogenesis, is a requirement for tumor progression. Tumor blood vessels supply nutrients and oxygen and also provide the route for metastasis. Tumor endothelial cells, which line tumor blood vessels, also exhibit several altered phenotypes compared with those of their normal counterparts. Recent studies have emphasized "angiocrine factors" that are released from tumor endothelial cells and promote tumor progression. During intravasation, tumor cells physically contact tumor endothelial cells and interact with them by juxtacrine and paracrine signaling. Recently, we observed that in highly metastatic tumors, tumor endothelial cells interact with tumor cells by secretion of a small leucine-rich repeat proteoglycan known as biglycan. Biglycan from tumor endothelial cells stimulates the tumor cells to metastasize. In the present review, we highlight the role of tumor stromal cells, particularly endothelial cells, in the initial steps of tumor metastasis.


Angiocrine factor; biglycan; endothelial cell; metastasis; stromal cell

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