Sinusoidal tumor angiogenesis is a key component in hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis

Takashi Sugino, Tomiko Yamaguchi, Nobuo Hoshi, Takashi Kusakabe, Go Ogura, Steve Goodison, Toshimitsu Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a tendency for intravascular dissemination leading to a poor prognosis. The importance of the sinusoidal structure of the tumor vasculature in HCC has been implicated in the metastasis formation. To clarify the role of tumor angiogenesis in HCC metastasis, we morphologically investigated the interaction of HCC cells with blood vessels during the sequential process of metastasis. Autopsy specimens of 80 patients with HCC were examined with immunohistochemistry using a specific antibody against CD31, a marker for endothelial cells. The most frequent sites of metastasis were the liver (82.5%) and lung (43.8%). In most cases, the metastatic process was initiated by vascular involvement where tumor nests surrounded by sinusoidal vessels extend into the portal and hepatic veins. Subsequently, these endothelial-coated tumor emboli enter the circulation, embolize at distant organs, proliferate within the blood vessel and ultimately form metastatic foci. These steps are indicative of an invasion-independent pathway. Our findings in animal models and now in human cases suggest that sinusoidal angiogenesis may represent a novel target for therapeutic strategies to limit HCC metastasis. In combination with primary tumor treatment, perturbation of tumor emboli may reduce dissemination of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-841
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Angiogenesis
  • Autopsy
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Invasion-independent pathway
  • Metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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