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      The blood–brain barrier and blood–tumour barrier in brain tumours and metastases

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      Nature Reviews Cancer
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          For a blood-borne cancer therapeutic agent to be effective, it must cross the blood vessel wall to reach cancer cells in adequate quantities, and it must overcome the resistance conferred by the local microenvironment around cancer cells. The brain microenvironment can thwart the effectiveness of drugs against primary brain tumours as well as brain metastases. In this Review, we highlight the cellular and molecular components of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a specialized neurovascular unit evolved to maintain brain homeostasis. Tumours are known to compromise the integrity of the BBB, resulting in a vasculature known as the blood-tumour barrier (BTB), which is highly heterogeneous and characterized by numerous distinct features, including non-uniform permeability and active efflux of molecules. We discuss the challenges posed by the BBB and BTB for drug delivery, how multiple cell types dictate BBB function and the role of the BTB in disease progression and treatment. Finally, we highlight emerging molecular, cellular and physical strategies to improve drug delivery across the BBB and BTB and discuss their impact on improving conventional as well as emerging treatments, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors and engineered T cells. A deeper understanding of the BBB and BTB through the application of single-cell sequencing and imaging techniques, and the development of biomarkers of BBB integrity along with systems biology approaches, should enable new personalized treatment strategies for primary brain malignancies and brain metastases.

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          Most cited references151

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          Analysis of nanoparticle delivery to tumours

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            Regression of Glioblastoma after Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy.

            A patient with recurrent multifocal glioblastoma received chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered T cells targeting the tumor-associated antigen interleukin-13 receptor alpha 2 (IL13Rα2). Multiple infusions of CAR T cells were administered over 220 days through two intracranial delivery routes - infusions into the resected tumor cavity followed by infusions into the ventricular system. Intracranial infusions of IL13Rα2-targeted CAR T cells were not associated with any toxic effects of grade 3 or higher. After CAR T-cell treatment, regression of all intracranial and spinal tumors was observed, along with corresponding increases in levels of cytokines and immune cells in the cerebrospinal fluid. This clinical response continued for 7.5 months after the initiation of CAR T-cell therapy. (Funded by Gateway for Cancer Research and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02208362 .).
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              Genes that mediate breast cancer metastasis to the brain.

              The molecular basis for breast cancer metastasis to the brain is largely unknown. Brain relapse typically occurs years after the removal of a breast tumour, suggesting that disseminated cancer cells must acquire specialized functions to take over this organ. Here we show that breast cancer metastasis to the brain involves mediators of extravasation through non-fenestrated capillaries, complemented by specific enhancers of blood-brain barrier crossing and brain colonization. We isolated cells that preferentially infiltrate the brain from patients with advanced disease. Gene expression analysis of these cells and of clinical samples, coupled with functional analysis, identified the cyclooxygenase COX2 (also known as PTGS2), the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand HBEGF, and the alpha2,6-sialyltransferase ST6GALNAC5 as mediators of cancer cell passage through the blood-brain barrier. EGFR ligands and COX2 were previously linked to breast cancer infiltration of the lungs, but not the bones or liver, suggesting a sharing of these mediators in cerebral and pulmonary metastases. In contrast, ST6GALNAC5 specifically mediates brain metastasis. Normally restricted to the brain, the expression of ST6GALNAC5 in breast cancer cells enhances their adhesion to brain endothelial cells and their passage through the blood-brain barrier. This co-option of a brain sialyltransferase highlights the role of cell-surface glycosylation in organ-specific metastatic interactions.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Cancer
                Nat Rev Cancer
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1474-175X
                1474-1768
                October 10 2019
                Article
                10.1038/s41568-019-0205-x
                31601988
                0bd089c1-c035-42bd-8393-af8ec0a1fb4e
                © 2019

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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