Elucidating cancer-vascular paracrine signaling using a human organotypic breast cancer cell extravasation model

Biomaterials. 2021 Mar;270:120640. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120640. Epub 2021 Feb 6.


In cancer metastasis, extravasation refers to the process where tumor cells exit the bloodstream by crossing the endothelium and invade the surrounding tissue. Tumor cells engage in complex crosstalk with other active players such as the endothelium leading to changes in functional behavior that exert pro-extravasation effects. Most in vitro studies to date have only focused on the independent effects of molecular targets on the functional changes of cancer cell extravasation behavior. However, singular targets cannot combat complex interactions involved in tumor cell extravasation that affects multiple cell types and signaling pathways. In this study, we employ an organotypic microfluidic model of human vasculature to investigate the independent and combined role of multiple upregulated secreted factors resulting from cancer-vascular interactions during cancer cell extravasation. The device consists of a tubular endothelial vessel generated from induced pluripotent stem cell derived endothelial cells within a collagen-fibrinogen matrix with breast cancer cells injected through and cultured along the lumen of the vessel. Our system identified cancer-vascular crosstalk, involving invasive breast cancer cells, that results in increased levels of secreted IL-6, IL-8, and MMP-3. Our model also showed that upregulation of these secreted factors correlates with invasive/metastatic potential of breast cancer cells. We also used therapeutic inhibitors to assess the independent and combined role of multiple signaling factors on the overall changes in functional behavior of both the cancer cells and the endothelium that promote extravasation. Taken together, these results demonstrate the potential of our organotypic model in elucidating mechanisms through which cancer-vascular interactions can promote extravasation, and in conducting functional assessment of therapeutic drugs that prevent extravasation in cancer metastasis.

Keywords: Cancer cell extravasation; Endothelial vessels; Induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells; Microfluidic in vitro model; Therapeutic drug testing platform.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Endothelial Cells*
  • Humans
  • Microfluidics
  • Paracrine Communication