Research Papers:

Detection and enumeration of circulating tumor cells based on their invasive property

Haizhen Wang, Yannis Hara, Xingtong Liu, James M. Reuben, Yongzhuang Xie, Huaxi Xu, Guojun Bu, Yihua Pei, Vineet Gupta and Xiangwei Wu _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:27304-27311. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4454

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Haizhen Wang1,*, Yannis Hara1,*, Xingtong Liu1, James M. Reuben2, Yongzhuang Xie3, Huaxi Xu3, Guojun Bu3, Yihua Pei4, Vineet Gupta1, Xiangwei Wu1

1Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA

2Department of Hematopathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA

3Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging Research, Institute of Neuroscience, College of Medicine, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China

4Central Laboratory, Zhongshan Hospital, Xiamen University, Fujian, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Xiangwei Wu, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: circulating tumor cells, cell invasion assay, metastasis, functional property

Received: March 19, 2015     Accepted: June 27, 2015     Published: July 11, 2015


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are in limited numbers and heterogeneous, making their detection, isolation, and enumeration a major challenge. To overcome these difficulties, we developed a novel method to detect and enumerate CTCs with invasive property. Our assay consists of three simple steps: enrichment, Matrigel invasion assay, and immunostaining. We have validated this method using mouse xenograft tumor models and confirmed its utility in human cancer patients. Our method does not require special equipment and antigen expression for CTC selection, is less likely to be affected by the heterogeneity of the CTCs, and could be applicable to virtually all cancers. Most important, our method enumerates invasive CTCs, which may allow more accurate correlations with clinical outcome and treatment response compared with other CTC detection methods.

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