Breakdown of the endothelial barrier function in tumor cell transmigration. Academic Article uri icon


  • The ability of tumor cells to metastasize is associated with a poor prognosis for cancer. During the process of metastasis, tumor cells circulating in the blood or lymph vessels can adhere to, and potentially transmigrate through, the endothelium and invade the connective tissue. We studied the effectiveness of the endothelium as a barrier against the invasion of 51 tumor cell lines into a three-dimensional collagen matrix. Only nine tumor cell lines showed attenuated invasion in the presence of an endothelial cell monolayer, whereas 17 cell lines became invasive or showed a significantly increased invasion. Endothelial cells cocultured with invasive tumor cells increased chemokine gene expression of IL-8 and Gro-beta. Expression of the IL-8 and Gro-beta receptor, CXCR2, was upregulated in invasive tumor cells. Addition of IL-8 or Gro-beta increased tumor cell invasiveness by more than twofold. Tumor cell variants selected for high CXCR2 expression were fourfold more invasive in the presence of an endothelial cell layer, whereas CXCR2 siRNA knock-down cells were fivefold less invasive. We demonstrate that Gro-beta and IL-8 secreted by endothelial cells, together with CXCR2 receptor expression on invasive tumor cells, contribute to the breakdown of the endothelial barrier by enhancing tumor cell force generation and cytoskeletal remodeling dynamics.

publication date

  • April 1, 2008