The seed and soil hypothesis revisited--the role of tumor-stroma interactions in metastasis to different organs

Int J Cancer. 2011 Jun 1;128(11):2527-35. doi: 10.1002/ijc.26031. Epub 2011 Mar 25.


The fact that certain tumors exhibit a predilection for metastasis to specific organs has been recognized for well over a century now. An extensive body of clinical data and experimental research has confirmed Stephen Paget's original "seed and soil" hypothesis that proposed the organ-preference patterns of tumor metastasis are the product of favorable interactions between metastatic tumor cells (the "seed") and their organ microenvironment (the "soil"). Indeed, many of the first-line therapeutic regimens, currently in use for the treatment of human cancer are designed to target cancer cells (such as chemotherapy) and also to modulate the tumor microenvironment (such as antiangiogenic therapy). While some types of tumors are capable of forming metastases in virtually every organ in the body, the most frequent target organs of metastasis are bone, brain, liver and the lung. In this review, we discuss how tumor-stromal interactions influence metastasis in each of these organs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Stromal Cells / pathology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment*