N-cadherin in cancer metastasis, its emerging role in haematological malignancies and potential as a therapeutic target in cancer

BMC Cancer. 2018 Oct 1;18(1):939. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4845-0.


In many types of solid tumours, the aberrant expression of the cell adhesion molecule N-cadherin is a hallmark of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, resulting in the acquisition of an aggressive tumour phenotype. This transition endows tumour cells with the capacity to escape from the confines of the primary tumour and metastasise to secondary sites. In this review, we will discuss how N-cadherin actively promotes the metastatic behaviour of tumour cells, including its involvement in critical signalling pathways which mediate these events. In addition, we will explore the emerging role of N-cadherin in haematological malignancies, including bone marrow homing and microenvironmental protection to anti-cancer agents. Finally, we will discuss the evidence that N-cadherin may be a viable therapeutic target to inhibit cancer metastasis and increase tumour cell sensitivity to existing anti-cancer therapies.

Keywords: Cancer; Haematological malignancies; Metastasis; N-cadherin; Therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / physiopathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / drug effects
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cadherins
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor