Brain metastases are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among cancer patients, and are reported to occur in about 40% of cancer patients with metastatic disease in the United States of America. Primary tumor cells appear to detach from the parent tumor site, migrate, survive and pass through the blood brain barrier in order to establish cerebral metastases. This complex process involves distinct molecular and genetic mechanisms that mediate metastasis from these primary organs to the brain. Furthermore, an interaction between the invading cells and cerebral milieu is shown to promote this process as well. Here, we review the mechanisms by which primary cancer cells metastasize to the brain via a mechanism called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, as well as the involvement of certain microRNA and genetic aberrations implicated in cerebral metastases from the lung, breast, skin, kidney and colon. While the mechanisms governing the development of brain metastases remain a major hindrance in treatment, understanding and identification of the aforementioned molecular pathways may allow for improved management and discovery of novel therapeutic targets.
Cooper, J. B., Ronecker, J., Tobias, M., Mohan, A., Hillard, V., Murali, R., Gandhi, C., Schmidt, M., & Jhanwar-Uniyal, M. (2018). Molecular Sequence of Events and Signaling Pathways in Cerebral Metastases. Anticancer Research, 38 (4), 1859-1877. https://doi.org/10.21873/anticanres.12424
Originally published in Anticancer Research, 38(4), 1859-1877. The original material can be found here.