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Open Access Open Badges Review

Extravasation of leukocytes in comparison to tumor cells

Carina Strell and Frank Entschladen*

Author Affiliations

Institute of Immunology, Witten/Herdecke University, Stockumer Str. 10, 58448 Witten, Germany

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2008, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-6-10

Published: 4 December 2008


The multi-step process of the emigration of cells from the blood stream through the vascular endothelium into the tissue has been termed extravasation. The extravasation of leukocytes is fairly well characterized down to the molecular level, and has been reviewed in several aspects. Comparatively little is known about the extravasation of tumor cells, which is part of the hematogenic metastasis formation. Although the steps of the process are basically the same in leukocytes and tumor cells, i.e. rolling, adhesion, transmigration (diapedesis), the molecules that are involved are different. A further important difference is that leukocyte interaction with the endothelium changes the endothelial integrity only temporarily, whereas tumor cell interaction leads to an irreversible damage of the endothelial architecture. Moreover, tumor cells utilize leukocytes for their extravasation as linkers to the endothelium. Thus, metastasis formation is indirectly susceptible to localization signals that are literally specific for the immune system. We herein compare the extravasation of leukocytes and tumor cells with regard to the involved receptors and the localization signals that direct the cells to certain organs and sites of the body.