From tumor lymphangiogenesis to lymphvascular niche

Cancer Sci. 2009 Jun;100(6):983-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2009.01142.x. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Metastasis in sentinel lymph nodes indicates the initial spread of tumors from a primary site. The recent discovery of tumor-associated growth of lymphatic vessels clarified that tumor lymphangiogenesis actively promotes enhanced draining/sentinel lymph node metastasis. Studies of experimental carcinogenesis have further established that tumors continue to induce lymphangiogenesis in metastatic foci such as draining lymph nodes. Lymphangiogenesis within draining lymph nodes probably contributes to enhanced distant lymph node and distant organ metastases. Lymph node lymphangiogenesis has recently been identified in several human malignancies, such as cutaneous malignant melanoma. Tumor-associated lymphangiogenesis thus has potential significance not only at the primary site, but also in lymph nodes. Primary tumors induce new lymphatic vessel growth in draining lymph nodes before metastasis. The remarkable enlargement of sinusoidal lymphatic endothelium might facilitate tumor cell transport to the lymph nodes, and potentially contribute to the migration, residence, and/or survival of metastatic tumor cancer stem cells by inducing a specific tumor microenvironment. Therefore, the novel concept of 'lymphvascular niche' is proposed herein to explain lymphatic network expansion. This concept might help to improve understanding of the molecular mechanism of lymph node metastasis, and change therapeutic approaches to treating cancer metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphangiogenesis*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survival Rate
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics


  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A