The interaction of melanoma cells with fibroblasts and endothelial cells in three-dimensional macromolecular matrices: a model for tumour cell invasion

S L Schor, A M Schor, T D Allen, B Winn

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Comparative quantitative data are presented concerning the adhesion, proliferation and invasive behaviour of RPMI-3460 melanoma cells on (1) plain collagen gels, (2) monolayer cultures of fibroblasts and endothelial cells growing on the gel surface, and (3) the exposed endothelial and fibroblast extracellular matrices (ECMs). Both types of ECMs enhanced melanoma cell adhesion and proliferation (compared with plain gels) and had marked, but distinctive, effects on melanoma morphology. The thickness and composition of the ECMs was altered by treatment of the matrices with enzymes (trypsin, elastase and chondroitinase ABC) or by using ECMs produced by endothelial cells at various times after confluence. Variations in the thickness and composition of the ECMs had no effect on the behaviour of melanoma cells growing on these matrices; our results suggest that the glycoproteins and glycosaminoglycan ECM constituents removed by digestion with the enzymes do not play an important role in melanoma cell attachment, proliferation and migration. Melanoma cells plated on the surface of a plain collagen gel rapidly migrated down into the collagen matrix, with approximately 30% of the cells found within the gel after 6 days of incubation. Fibroblast and endothelial ECMs significantly and distinctively inhibited melanoma invasion into the underlying collagen gel. The extensive invasion of melanoma cells into the gel was not accompanied by hydrolysis of the collagen fibres. Conversely, fibroblast and endothelial ECMs, which acted as effective barriers, were extensively hydrolysed by the melanoma cells. The possible use of ECMs deposited on collagen in the study of melanoma local invasion (on fibroblast ECMs) and extravasation (on endothelial ECMs) is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 1985



  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cricetinae
  • Endothelium/pathology
  • Extracellular Matrix/pathology
  • Fibroblasts/pathology
  • Melanoma/pathology
  • Mesocricetus
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness

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