Selectins and selectin ligands in extravasation of cancer cells and organ selectivity of metastasis

Clin Exp Metastasis. 2008;25(4):335-44. doi: 10.1007/s10585-007-9096-4. Epub 2007 Sep 21.


Metastatic spreading is a dreadful complication of neoplastic diseases that is responsible for most deaths due to cancer. It consists in the formation of secondary neoplasms from cancer cells that have detached from the primary site. The formation of these secondary sites is not random and several clinical observations indicate that the metastatic colonization exhibits organ selectivity. This organ tropism relies mostly on the complementary adhesive interactions between the cancer cells and their microenvironment. In particular, several lines of evidence suggest that the organ selectivity of colon cancer cells for the liver involves the binding of the circulating cancer cells to endothelial E-selectin. The aim of this review is to make an integrative up-date of the mechanisms that govern the organ selectivity of the metastatic process focusing more especially on the role of selectins and selectin ligands.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Neoplasm Metastasis*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating*
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Selectins / physiology*


  • Ligands
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Selectins