Role of the Microenvironment in Liver Metastasis: From Pre- to Prometastatic Niches

Clin Cancer Res. 2016 Dec 15;22(24):5971-5982. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-0460. Epub 2016 Oct 19.


Liver metastases remain a major barrier to successful management of malignant disease, particularly for cancers of the gastrointestinal tract but also for other malignancies, such as breast carcinoma and melanoma. The ability of metastatic cells to survive and proliferate in the liver is determined by the outcome of complex, reciprocal interactions between tumor cells and different local resident subpopulations, including the sinusoidal endothelium, stellate, Kupffer, and inflammatory cells that are mediated through cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion and the release of soluble factors. Cross-communication between different hepatic resident cells in response to local tissue damage and inflammation and the recruitment of bone marrow cells further enhance this intercellular communication network. Both resident and recruited cells can play opposing roles in the progression of metastasis, and the balance of these divergent effects determines whether the tumor cells will die, proliferate, and colonize the new site or enter a state of dormancy. Moreover, this delicate balance can be tilted in favor of metastasis, if factors produced by the primary tumor precondition the microenvironment to form niches of activated resident cells that promote tumor expansion. This review aims to summarize current knowledge on these diverse interactions and the impact they can have on the clinical management of hepatic metastases. Clin Cancer Res; 22(24); 5971-82. ©2016 AACR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology*