The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 563 - 571 (2004)

Vol 48, Issue 5-6

Special Issue: Invasion in Cancer and Embryonic Development

The "chemoinvasion assay": a tool to study tumor and endothelial cell invasion of basement membranes

Published: 1 September 2004

Adriana Albini, Roberto Benelli, Douglas M. Noonan and Claudio Brigati

National Cancer Research Institute, Genova, Italy.


Several genetic and epigenetic factors, both in the cell and in the host, contribute to the progression of tumors towards metastases. The escape of cancer cells from a primary, localized tumor to distant organs transforms a relatively curable pathology to an almost untreatable one. Metastatic lesions are often resistant to cancer therapy because of the progressive phenotypic changes that they have undergone. In this article we will give a bird's eye view on the features of metastatic cells and potential therapeutic targets. In particular, the invasion of basement membranes represents a fundamental step for cell dispersion. Over seventeen years ago we established the Matrigel "chemoinvasion" assay, a useful tool for studying the mechanisms involved in tumor and endothelial cell invasion of basement membranes and for the screening of anti-invasive agents. We will describe the assay and review some of the major results it enabled to obtain.


invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, basement membrane, chemoinvasion

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