Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions and circulating tumor cells

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2010 Jun;15(2):261-73. doi: 10.1007/s10911-010-9174-0. Epub 2010 May 7.


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenomena endow epithelial cells with enhanced migratory and invasive potential, and as such, have been implicated in many physiological and pathological processes requiring cell migration/invasion. Although their involvement in the metastatic cascade is still a subject of debate, data are accumulating to demonstrate the existence of EMT phenotypes in primary human tumors, describe enhanced metastatic potential of EMT derivatives in animal models, and report EMT attributes in circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The relationships between EMT and CTCs remain largely unexplored, and we review here in vitro and in vivo data supporting a putative role of EMT processes in CTC generation and survival.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Cell Dedifferentiation
  • Cell Transdifferentiation*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating*
  • Phenotype