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Methods for Studying Tumor Cell Migration and Invasiveness

Authors: Kovaříková Petra, Michalová Eva, Knopfová Lucia, Bouchal Pavel

Klinicka onkologie Journal. 2014; 27(Supplementum 1): 22-27. DOI: 10.14735/amko20141S22.


Migration and invasiveness are phenotypic characteristics of cells that contribute to physiological processes, such as wound healing or embryogenesis and they are involved in serious pathological processes, namely in tumor cell metastasis. Availability of methods for studying migration and invasiveness of the cells is important for understanding molecular basis of these processes. In the case of cancer, migration, invasiveness and metastatic potential of tumor cells are key factors that determine clinical prognosis of the patients. This communication provides an overview of in vitro and in vivo methods which are used to study cell migration, invasion and metastasis. In vitro methods for studying cell migration include simple two-dimensional assays (scratch – wound assay and the assay based on the eff ect of hepatocyte growth factor) and methods based on chemotaxis (Dunn‘s chamber, videomicroscopy of cells, the use of carriers with chemoattractants). Methods for studying both cell migration and invasiveness in vitro include more complex systems based on the principle of the Boyden chamber (transwell migration/ invasive test, analysis of cell migration and invasion in xCELLigence system, confocal microscopy based approaches) as well as analysis of cell migration in micro-channels. Our overview of in vivo methods provides an introduction into model organisms and methods used in this field, with an emphasis on the study of cancer metastasis in mouse models. The methods described in this review are mainly involved in larger research projects aiming at developing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in oncology.


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