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Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 5663–5674 | Cite as

Phenotype of circulating tumor cell: face-off between epithelial and mesenchymal masks

  • Yupeng Hong
  • Qi Zhang
Review

Abstract

Most patients with cancers died of distant metastasis. It is always difficult to find cancer metastasis in early time, let alone to prevent or cure it. Currently, oncologists place high hopes on circulating tumor cell (CTC), which, compared to current imaging methods, is found more sensitive for early metastasis. Recently, techniques for CTC enrichment and identification are developing quickly. However, there are great challenges in the clinical interpretation of CTC assessments. Increasing studies have shown the heterogeneity of CTCs, which may play different roles in cancer metastasis. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition is not only the main mechanism of the cancer cells invading the circulation system but also a distinguished characteristic of CTCs. Investigators are trying to differentiate specific subgroups of CTCs that are truly responsible for cancer metastasis. Here, we reviewed the current evidences on epithelial-mesenchymal transition of CTCs from perspectives of enrichment methods, biology, and its subgroups.

Keywords

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition ISET EpCAM CTC cluster Phenotype switch Metastasis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81401954) and the Medical Science & Technology Program of Zhejiang Province, China (2015KYA114). We appreciate Dr. Ziduo Li from ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney, Australia for help of search and full-text paper acquisition.

Author contributions

Hong Y and Zhang Q wrote the manuscript. Both authors approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

None

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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OncologyZhejiang Provincial People’s HospitalHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic SurgeryThe Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of MedicineHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and InterventionNational Ministry of EducationHangzhouChina

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