The physiological environment in cancer vascularization, invasion and metastasis

Zaver M. Bhujwalla, Dmitri Artemov, Eric Aboagye, Ellen Ackerstaff, Robert J. Gillies, Kshama Natarajan, Meiyappan Solaiyappan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


One of the most lethal aspects of cancer arises from its ability to invade and metastasize. Determining the factors that promote cancer cell invasion and metastasis is therefore critically important in treating this disease. The tumour physiological environment is uniquely different from normal tissue, and exhibits hypoxia, acidic extracellular pH and high levels of lactate. This environment, dictated largely by abnormal tumour vasculature and metabolism, in turn also promotes angiogenesis. The physiological environment, tumour metabolism, angiogenesis and vascularization are therefore inextricably linked. We have developed and applied non-invasive magnetic resonance (MR) imaging (I) and spectroscopy (S) techniques to understand the role of vascular, physiological and metabolic properties in cancer invasion and metastasis. These MR studies are performed with human breast and prostate cancer cells maintained in culture or grown as solid tumours in immune-suppressed mice. We have detected significant differences in vascular, physiological and metabolic characteristics of metastatic and non-metastatic human breast and prostate cancer models with MRI and MRS. Using a combined MRI/MRS approach we are currently acquiring metabolic, extracellular pH and vascular images from the same localized regions within a solid tumour to further understand the dynamics between these parameters and their role in cancer invasion and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalNovartis Foundation Symposium
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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