, Volume 137, Issue 5, pp 687-695
Date: 24 Jan 2012

The interaction between CD44 on tumour cells and hyaluronan under physiologic flow conditions: implications for metastasis formation

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The adhesion of tumour cells to the endothelial cells of blood vessels of the microcirculation represents a crucial step in haematogenous metastasis formation. Similar to leukocyte extravasation, selectins mediate initial tumour cell rolling on endothelium. An additional mechanism of leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells is mediated by hyaluronan (HA). However, data on the interaction of tumour cells with hyaluronan under shear stress are lacking. The expression of the hyaluronan binding protein CD44 on tumour cell surfaces was evaluated using flow cytometry. The adhesion of tumour cells to HA with regard to adhesive events and rolling velocity was determined in flow assays in the human small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines SW2, H69, H82, OH1 and OH3, the colon carcinoma cell line HT29 and the melanoma cell line MeWo. Hyaluronan deposition in human and mouse lung blood vessels was histochemically determined. MeWo adhered best to HA followed by HT29. SCLC cell lines showed the lowest CD44 expression on the cell surface and lowest number of adhesive events. While hyaluronan was deposited in patches in the microvasculature of the alveolar septum in the human lung, it was only present in the periarterial space in the mouse lung. Certain tumour entities bind to HA under physiological shear stresses so that HA can be considered a further ligand for cell extravasation in haematogenous metastasis. As hyaluronan is deposited within the pulmonary microvasculature, it may well serve as a ligand for its binding partner CD44, which is expressed by many tumour cells.