Ecological paradigms to understand the dynamics of metastasis

Sarah R. Amend, Sounak Roy, Joel S. Brown, Kenneth J. Pienta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The process by which prostate cancer cells non-randomly disseminate to the bone to form lethal metastases remains unknown. Metastasis is the ultimate consequence of the long-range dispersal of a cancer cell from the primary tumor to a distant secondary site. In order to metastasize, the actively emigrating cell must move. Movement ecology describes an individual's migration between habitats without the requirement of conscious decision-making. Specifically, this paradigm describes four interacting components that influence the dynamic process of metastasis: (1) the microenvironmental pressures exerted on the cancer cell, (2) how the individual cell reacts to these external pressures, (3) the phenotypic switch of a cell to gain the physical traits required for movement, and (4) the ability of the cancer cell to navigate to a specific site. A deeper understanding of each of these components will lead to the development of novel therapeutics targeted to interrupt previously unidentified steps of metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-242
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Dispersal
  • Epithelial–mesenchymal-transition
  • Homing
  • Metastasis
  • Microenvironment
  • Transmogrification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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