When push comes to shove: Airway cells propel liver cancer spread to lungs
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IMAGE: This is a schematic representation of the presumed dynamics and roles of alveolar macrophages (AMs) in lung metastasis. Interstitial macrophages (IMs) in lung metastatic foci can produce an inflammatory chemokine,… view more 

Credit: Kanazawa University

Kanazawa, Japan – Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer, and the third biggest cause of death from cancer worldwide. Although HCC patients have benefited from recent improvements in diagnoses and various therapies, their average survival time is still only 16.2 months, falling to just under 6 months in those whose cancer has spread to their lungs.

Lung metastasis occurs when tumor cells from the liver enter the bloodstream. This process involves a range of tumor-host cell interactions, but the exact details have not been known. Now, a Japanese team of researchers led by Kanazawa University has undertaken a detailed investigation of the role of two different scavenger white blood cells (macrophages) of the lung, and a myriad of molecules associated with inflammation in a mouse model of metastasis. The study was reported in the Journal of Immunology.

The animal model was produced by injecting a mouse HCC cell line into the veins of mice, which resulted in the

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