A Metastatic Breast Cancer Cell Exits the Lung Vasculature
Metastasis is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths. In order for breast cancer cells to metastasize, the cells must leave the primary site, enter circulation, and then exit the vasculature once again in distant organs. In my thesis project, I am studying how the Notch ligand, JAGGED-1, promotes metastasis by helping the breast cancer cells exit circulation. In this image, a red JAGGED-1 positive breast cancer cell (RFP) was able to exit mouse lung capillaries stained in green (CD31). Blue marks the nuclei. After the cell exits the vasculature, deadly metastatic nodules will form in the lung. These visualizations are imperative in understanding the key mechanisms of metastasis that involve the vasculature. My research utilizes these images to quantify the frequency of vascular escape in breast cancer cells positive or negative for JAGGED-1. The image was captured on Zeiss 880 confocal microscope with AiryScan processing with a 50 micron mouse lung section. 77 z-stacks were stitched together and then flattened to form a 3D image, demonstrating the micro-tubular structures of the vasculature with empty airspace in between in black.