Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 471–480 | Cite as

Evidence for an Additional Metastatic Route: In Vivo Imaging of Cancer Cells in the Primo-Vascular System Around Tumors and Organs

  • Jung Sun Yoo
  • Hong Bae Kim
  • Nayoun Won
  • Jiwon Bang
  • Sungjee Kim
  • Saeyoung Ahn
  • Byung-Cheon Lee
  • Kwang-Sup Soh
Research Article



Researchers have been studying the mechanisms by which metastasis can be prevented via blocking the hematogenous and the lymphatic routes for a long time now. However, metastasis is still the single most challenging obstacle for successful cancer management. In a new twist that may require some retooling of this established approach, we investigated the hypothesis that tumor metastases can occur via an independent fluid-conducting system called the primo-vascular system.


The dissemination and growth of near-infrared quantum dot (NIR QD)-electroporated cancer cells in metastatic sites were investigated using in vivo multispectral imaging techniques.


Our results show that the NIR QD-labeled cancer cells were able to migrate through not only the blood vascular and lymphatic systems but also the primo-vascular system extending from around the tumor to inside the abdominal cavity. Furthermore, the NIR QD-labeled cancer cells, which had been seeded intraperitoneally, specifically infiltrated the primo-vascular system in the omentum and in the gonadal fat.


These findings strongly suggest that the primo-vascular system may be an additional metastasis route, complementing the lymphatic and hematogenous routes, which facilitate the dissemination and colonization of cancer cells at secondary sites.

Key words

Cancer metastasis Primo-vascular system Multispectral imaging Electroporation Near-infrared quantum dots Vasculogenic mimicry 



This research was supported by a “Systems Biology Infrastructure Establishment Grant” from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology and by a Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) grant funded by the Korean government (MOST) R0A-2008-000-20114-0(2008) and KRF-2008-331-C00140. Jung Sun Yoo was supported by the Seoul Science Fellowship. K. S. Soh is thankful for the generous support of President B. J. Son of Mobase Co. Ltd. Jung Sun Yoo is also grateful for Professor Vasilis Ntziachristos and Dr. George Themelis at the Technical University of Munich and the Helmholtz Center Munich for scientific discussion and for Professors Jaisoon Kim at Myongji University and Moonseok Kim at Seoul National University for their valuable advice on the imaging system design.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Molecular Imaging and Society for Molecular Imaging 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jung Sun Yoo
    • 1
  • Hong Bae Kim
    • 1
  • Nayoun Won
    • 2
  • Jiwon Bang
    • 2
  • Sungjee Kim
    • 2
  • Saeyoung Ahn
    • 1
  • Byung-Cheon Lee
    • 1
  • Kwang-Sup Soh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomySeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryPohang University of Science and TechnologyKyungbukSouth Korea

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