Cohesive cancer invasion of the biophysical barrier of smooth muscle

William L. Harryman, Kendra D. Marr, Daniel Hernandez-Cortes, Raymond B. Nagle, Joe G.N. Garcia, Anne E. Cress

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Smooth muscle is found around organs in the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive tracts. Cancers arising in the bladder, prostate, stomach, colon, and other sites progress from low-risk disease to high-risk, lethal metastatic disease characterized by tumor invasion into, within, and through the biophysical barrier of smooth muscle. We consider here the unique biophysical properties of smooth muscle and how cohesive clusters of tumor use mechanosensing cell–cell and cell–ECM (extracellular matrix) adhesion receptors to move through a structured muscle and withstand the biophysical forces to reach distant sites. Understanding integrated mechanosensing features within tumor cluster and smooth muscle and potential triggers within adjacent adipose tissue, such as the unique damage-associated molecular pattern protein (DAMP), eNAMPT (extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase), or visfatin, offers an opportunity to prevent the first steps of invasion and metastasis through the structured muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalCancer and metastasis reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Bladder
  • Cohesive clusters
  • Mechanosensing
  • Prostate
  • Smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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