Purpose: Researchers have been studying the mechanisms by which metastasis can be prevented via blocking the hematogenous and the lymphatic routes for a long time now. However, metastasis is still the single most challenging obstacle for successful cancer management. In a new twist that may require some retooling of this established approach, we investigated the hypothesis that tumor metastases can occur via an independent fluid-conducting system called the primo-vascular system.
Procedures: The dissemination and growth of near-infrared quantum dot (NIR QD)-electroporated cancer cells in metastatic sites were investigated using in vivo multispectral imaging techniques.
Results: Our results show that the NIR QD-labeled cancer cells were able to migrate through not only the blood vascular and lymphatic systems but also the primo-vascular system extending from around the tumor to inside the abdominal cavity. Furthermore, the NIR QD-labeled cancer cells, which had been seeded intraperitoneally, specifically infiltrated the primo-vascular system in the omentum and in the gonadal fat.
Conclusions: These findings strongly suggest that the primo-vascular system may be an additional metastasis route, complementing the lymphatic and hematogenous routes, which facilitate the dissemination and colonization of cancer cells at secondary sites.