Table of Contents
Journal of Biophysics
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 183516, 13 pages
Review Article

Role of the Endothelium during Tumor Cell Metastasis: Is the Endothelium a Barrier or a Promoter for Cell Invasion and Metastasis?

Biophysics Group, Center for Medical Physics and Technology, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, 91052 Erlangen, Germany

Received 9 May 2008; Revised 12 October 2008; Accepted 11 December 2008

Academic Editor: Miklós S. Z. Kellermayer

Copyright © 2008 Claudia Tanja Mierke. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The malignancy of cancer disease depends on the ability of the primary tumor to metastasize to distant organs. The process of the metastasis formation has largely been analyzed, but still main pathways regarding the extravasation step at the end of the metastasis formation process are controversially discussed. An agreement has been reached about the importance of the endothelium to promote metastasis formation either by enhancing the growth of the primary tumor or by homing (targeting) the tumor cells to blood or lymph vessels. The mechanical properties of the invading tumor cells become the focus of several studies, but the endothelial cell mechanical properties are still elusive. This paper describes the different roles of the endothelium in the process of metastasis formation and focuses on a novel role of the endothelium in promoting tumor cell invasion. It discusses how novel biophysical tools and in vivo animal models help to determine the role of the endothelium in the process of tumor cell invasion. Evidence is provided that cell mechanical properties, for example, contractile force generation of tumor cells, are involved in the process of tumor cell invasion.