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Brain metastasis is a frequent occurrence in patients with cancer, with devastating consequences. The current animal models for brain metastasis are highly variable, leading to a need for improved in vivo models that recapitulate the clinical disease. Herein, we describe an experimental brain metastasis model that uses ultrasonographic guidance to perform intracardiac injections. This method is easy to perform, giving consistent and quantitative results. Demonstrating the utility of this method, we have assessed a variety of metastatic cell lines for their ability to develop into brain metastases. Those cell lines that were competent at brain colonization could be detected in the brain vasculature 4 hours after intracardiac injection, and a few adherent cells persisted until colonization occurred. In contrast, those cell lines that were deficient in brain colonization were infrequently found 4 hours after introduction into the arterial circulation and were not detected at later time points. All of these cells were capable of brain colonization after intraparenchymal injection. We propose that adherence to the brain vasculature may be the key limiting step that determines the ability of a cancer cell to form brain metastases successfully. Identifying brain endothelium-specific adhesion molecules may enable development of screening modalities to detect brain-colonizing cancer cells and therapies to prevent these metastatic cells from seeding the brain.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Pathol

Publication Date





26 - 34


Animals, Biomarkers, Tumor, Brain Neoplasms, Cell Adhesion, Cell Line, Tumor, Female, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Heart Ventricles, Humans, Injections, Luminescent Measurements, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, SCID, Neoplasm Micrometastasis, Ultrasonography, Interventional