Steps in tumor metastasis: new concepts from intravital videomicroscopy

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 1995 Dec;14(4):279-301. doi: 10.1007/BF00690599.


Metastases are responsible for the majority of failures in cancer treatment. Clarifying steps in metastasis and their molecular mechanisms will be important for the development of anti-metastasis therapeutic strategies. Considerable progress has been made in identifying molecules involved in metastasis. However, because of the nature of assays that have been available, conclusions about steps in metastasis and their molecular bases have been drawn primarily from inference. In order to complete the picture of how metastases form, a technique is needed to directly watch the process in vivo as it occurs over time. We have developed an intravital videomicroscopy (IVVM) procedure to make such observations possible. Results from IVVM are providing us with new conceptual understanding of the metastatic process, as well as the nature and timing of the contributions of molecules implicated in metastasis (e.g. adhesion molecules and proteinases). Our findings suggest that early steps in metastasis, including hemodynamic destruction and extravasation, may contribute less to metastatic inefficiency than previously believed. Instead, our results suggest that the control of post-extravasation growth of individual cancer cells is a significant contributor to metastatic inefficiency. Thus, this stage may be an appropriate target for design of novel strategies to prevent metastases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Microscopy, Video / methods*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Endopeptidases