In vivo evaluation of the early events associated with liver metastasis of circulating cancer cells

Br J Cancer. 2001 Aug 3;85(3):431-8. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.1911.


The mechanism of metastasis formation remains still largely unknown. Many studies underline the importance and complexity of the initial arrest of the circulating tumour cells in the target organ, a key stage in metastasis occurrence. In our study, we evaluated by visual means the metastasis formation using an in vivo microscopy system in a murine model. Moreover, we investigated the involvement of P-selectin in these processes using immunohistochemistry and P-selectin knockout mice. The present study offers direct evidence of distinct pathways for tumour metastasis formation by a lymphoma cell - EL-4 and a solid tumour cell - C26. Off-line analysis of the images and histological data confirmed that mechanical entrapment of the solid tumour cell, which had a bigger diameter than that of the liver sinusoids, promoted metastasis without any detectable involvement of adhesion molecules. On the other hand, we observed that lymphoma cells, in spite of their smaller diameter as compared to the sinusoids, promoted liver metastasis as well, but with the essential participation in their arrest of P-selectin, indicating an adhesion molecule-mediated pathway.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Lymphoma / metabolism*
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / metabolism*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology
  • P-Selectin / metabolism
  • P-Selectin / physiology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • P-Selectin