Fusion of tumour cells with bone marrow-derived cells: a unifying explanation for metastasis

Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 May;8(5):377-86. doi: 10.1038/nrc2371.


The causes of metastasis remain elusive despite vast information on cancer cells. We posit that cancer cell fusion with macrophages or other migratory bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) provides an explanation. BMDC-tumour hybrids have been detected in numerous animal models and recently in human cancer. Molecular studies indicate that gene expression in such hybrids reflects a metastatic phenotype. Should BMDC-tumour fusion be found to underlie invasion and metastasis in human cancer, new approaches for therapy would surely follow.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / pathology*
  • Cell Fusion
  • Chimera / genetics
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*