Compromised Blood-Brain Barrier Junctions Enhance Melanoma Cell Intercalation and Extravasation

Cancers (Basel). 2023 Oct 20;15(20):5071. doi: 10.3390/cancers15205071.


Melanoma frequently metastasises to the brain, and a detailed understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying melanoma cell extravasation across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is important for preventing brain metastasis formation. Making use of primary mouse brain microvascular endothelial cells (pMBMECs) as an in vitro BBB model, we imaged the interaction of melanoma cells into pMBMEC monolayers. We observed exclusive junctional intercalation of melanoma cells and confirmed that melanoma-induced pMBMEC barrier disruption can be rescued by protease inhibition. Interleukin (IL)-1β stimulated pMBMECs or PECAM-1-knockout (-ko) pMBMECs were employed to model compromised BBB barrier properties in vitro and to determine increased melanoma cell intercalation compared to pMBMECs with intact junctions. The newly generated brain-homing melanoma cell line YUMM1.1-BrM4 was used to reveal increased in vivo extravasation of melanoma cells across the BBB of barrier-compromised PECAM-1-deficient mice compared to controls. Taken together, our data indicate that preserving BBB integrity is an important measure to limit the formation of melanoma-brain metastasis.

Keywords: blood-brain barrier (BBB); cell extravasation; endothelial junctions; melanoma; metastasis.