Metastatic cells creating a better nest

Metastatic spreading from Paget’s ‘seed and soil’ hypothesis introduced the concept that a receptive microenvironment is required for malignant cells to engraft in distant tissues. To date, experimental evidence showed that establishing a favourable microenvironment (or niche) locally within the metastatic tissue is key to kick-start secondary growth. 

A direct link exists between cancer cell tumorigenic potential and the ability to establish favourable interactions with host tissue cells. The establishment of the metastatic niche is instrumental to allow metastatic growth and the cross-talk between niche cells and cancer cells shape cancer cell characteristics.

We investigate the early events in the tissue in response to metastatic seeding and growth and the cellular composition of the metastatic niches. We follow the cellular composition of the local tissue niche from early stage metastatic colonization to late stage metastatic formation to understand the evolution of this complex cellular environment.

Figure: Difference in efficiency of stromal activation (red) between poorly (left) and highly (right) metastatic cells. Immunofluorescence stain for the stromal activation marker Smooth Muscle Actin (red), cancer cells (green fluorescent protein, GFP) and nuclear stained with DAPI (blue).