, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 163-180
Date: 26 Aug 2011

The Liver Prometastatic Reaction of Cancer Patients: Implications for Microenvironment-Dependent Colon Cancer Gene Regulation

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Colon cancer frequently metastasizes to the liver but the genetic and phenotypic properties of specific cancer cells able to implant and grow in this organ have not yet been established. The contribution of the patient’s genetic, physiologic and pathologic backgrounds to the incidence and development of hepatic colon cancer metastases is also presently misunderstood. At a transcriptional level, hepatic metastasis development is in part associated with marked changes in gene expression of colon cancer cells that may originate in the primary tumor. Other changes occur in the liver and are regulated by hepatic cells, which represent the new microenvironment for metastatic colon cancer cells. However, hepatic parenchymal and non-parenchymal cell functions are also affected by both tumor-derived factors and systemic host factors, which suggests that the hepatic metastasis microenvironment is a functional linkage between the hepatic pathophysiology of the colon cancer patient and the biology of its cancer cells. Therefore, together with metastasis-related gene profiles suggesting the existence of liver metastasis potential in primary tumors, new biomarkers of the prometastatic microenvironment supported by the liver reaction to colon cancer factors may be helpful for the individual assessment of hepatic metastasis risk in colon cancer patients. In addition, knowledge on hepatic metastasis gene regulation by the hepatic microenvironment may open multiple opportunities for therapeutic intervention during colon cancer metastasis at both subclinical and advanced stages.