Autologous chemotaxis as a mechanism of tumor cell homing to lymphatics via interstitial flow and autocrine CCR7 signaling

Cancer Cell. 2007 Jun;11(6):526-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2007.04.020.


CCR7 is implicated in lymph node metastasis of cancer, but its role is obscure. We report a mechanism explaining how interstitial flow caused by lymphatic drainage directs tumor cell migration by autocrine CCR7 signaling. Under static conditions, lymphatic endothelium induced CCR7-dependent chemotaxis of tumor cells through 3D matrices. However, interstitial flow induced strong increases in tumor cell migration that were also CCR7 dependent, but lymphatic independent. This autologous chemotaxis correlated with metastatic potential in four cell lines and was verified by visualizing directional polarization of cells in the flow direction. Computational modeling revealed that transcellular gradients of CCR7 ligand were created under flow to drive this response. This illustrates how tumor cells may be guided to lymphatics during metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autocrine Communication*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemotaxis*
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphatic System / cytology*
  • Lymphatic System / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Receptors, CCR7
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*


  • CCR7 protein, human
  • Receptors, CCR7
  • Receptors, Chemokine