Mechanisms of colorectal liver metastasis development

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, largely due to the development of colorectal liver metastases (CRLM). For the establishment of CRLM, CRC cells must remodel their tumor-microenvironment (TME), avoid the immune system, invade the underlying stroma, survive the hostile environment of the circulation, extravasate into the liver, reprogram the hepatic microenvironment into a permissive pre-metastatic niche, and finally, awake from a dormant state to grow out into clinically detectable CRLM. These steps form part of the invasion-metastasis cascade that relies on reciprocal interactions between the tumor and its ever-changing microenvironment. Such interplay provides a strong rational for therapeutically targeting the TME. In fact, several TME constituents, such as VEGF, TGF-β coreceptor endoglin, and CXCR4, are already targeted in clinical trials. It is, however, of utmost importance to fully understand the complex interactions in the invasion-metastasis cascade to identify novel potential therapeutic targets and prevent the establishment of CRLM, which may ultimately greatly improve patient outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Article number607
JournalCellular and molecular life sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Cancer
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Invasion-metastasis cascade
  • Pre-metastatic niche
  • Tumor microenvironment

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