Duke University Medical Center, DUMC Box 102002, Durham, NC, 27710, United States.
During cancer progression malignant cells undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs) and mesenchymal-epithelial transitions (METs) as part of a broad invasion and metastasis program. We previously observed MET events among lung metastases in a preclinical model of prostate adenocarcinoma that suggested a relationship between epithelial plasticity and metastatic spread. We thus sought to translate these findings into clinical evidence by examining the existence of EMT in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from patients with progressive metastatic solid tumors, with a focus on men with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and women with metastatic breast cancer (BC). We show that the majority (>80%) of these CTCs in patients with metastatic CRPC co-express epithelial proteins such as EpCAM, CK, and E-cadherin, mesenchymal proteins, including vimentin, N-cadherin, and O-cadherin, and the stem cell marker CD133. Equally, we find that over 75% of CTCs from women with metastatic BC co-express cytokeratin, vimentin, and N-cadherin. The existence and high frequency of these CTCs co-expressing epithelial, mesenchymal, and stem-cell markers in patients with progressive metastases has important implications for the application and interpretation of approved methods to detect CTCs.
Armstrong AJ, Marengo MS, Oltean S, Kemeny G, Bitting R, Turnbull J, Herold CI, Marcom PK, George D, Garcia-Blanco M. Are you the author?
Reference: Mol Cancer Res. 2011 Jun 10. Epub ahead of print.