Metastatic breast cancer cells in lymph nodes increase nodal collagen density

Sci Rep. 2015 May 7;5:10002. doi: 10.1038/srep10002.


The most life-threatening aspect of breast cancer is the occurrence of metastatic disease. The tumor draining lymph nodes typically are the first sites of metastasis in breast cancer. Collagen I fibers and the extracellular matrix have been implicated in breast cancer to form avenues for metastasis. In this study, we have investigated extracellular matrix molecules such as collagen I fibers in the lymph nodes of mice bearing orthotopic human breast cancer xenografts. The lymph nodes in mice with metastatic MDA-MB-231 and SUM159 tumor xenografts and tumor xenografts grown from circulating tumor cell lines displayed an increased collagen I density compared to mice with no tumor and mice with non-metastatic T-47D and MCF-7 tumor xenografts. These results suggest that cancer cells that have metastasized to the lymph nodes can modify the extracellular matrix components of these lymph nodes. Clinically, collagen density in the lymph nodes may be a good marker for identifying lymph nodes that have been invaded by breast cancer cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Keratins / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Keratins
  • Collagen