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Selection and altered properties of brain-colonising metastatic melanoma

Nature volume 272, pages 543545 (06 April 1978) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Two of the least understood properties of malignant tumour cells are their abilities to invade surrounding normal tissues and to escape to form secondary tumours (metastases) at near and distant sites1–3. Distant metastases can arise when invading malignant cells penetrate into and are disseminated in the lymphatics, coelomic cavities or blood circulatory system. The mere presence of tumour cells in the blood does not necessarily indicate that distant metastatic disease will follow4, for most blood-borne malignant cells die rapidly in the circulation with few surviving to form secondary tumours2–5. In various experimental blood-borne metastatic tumour systems the location of gross metastases is nonrandom and does not correlate with the first capillary bed encountered6–10. This suggests that other factors are involved in tumour cell arrest apart from nonspecific trapping2,3,9,10. These would include cellular adhesive interactions of tumour cells with themselves11–13 (homotypic aggregation), heterotypic aggregations with circulating14–16 and non-circulating12,17,18 host cells, interactions with blood clotting components19–21, tumour cell deformability22,23, release or display of malignant cell hydrolytic enzymes24,25 and interactions with host immunological defences2,16,18,26,27. Unique tumour cell surface properties probably determine malignant cell arrest and survival at specific sites3,12,17,18,28 and this has been demonstrated when enzymatic treatment of malignant tumour cells has modified experimental metastasis26,29. We report here that variant cell lines of malignant melanoma can be selected in vivo28 for brain-specific colonisation30. These variants have cell surface characteristics that correlate with their brain specificity in vivo.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92717

    • KENNETH W. BRUNSON
    • , GILLIAN BEATTIE
    •  & GARTH L. NICOLSON

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https://doi.org/10.1038/272543a0

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