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ISSN 2410-7751 (Print)
ISSN 2410-776X (Online)


Biotechnologia Acta V. 14, No 4, 2021
Р. 5-27, Bibliography 155, English
Universal Decimal Classification: 576.522; 576.523; 576.385.5; 571.27; 616-006


I. Kryvoshlyk, L. Skivka

ESC “Institute of Biology and Medicine” Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

Cancer metastasis and recurrence are the leading causes of cancer-related death. Tumor cells which leave the primary or secondary tumors and shed into the bloodstream are called circulating tumor cells (CTC). These cells are the key drivers of cancer dissemination to surrounding tissues and to distant organs. The use of CTC in clinical practice necessitates the deep insight into their biology, as well as into their role in cancer evasion of immune surveillance, tumor resistance to chemo- radio- and immunotherapies and metastatic dormancy.

Aim. The purpose of the work was to review the current knowledge on the CTC biology, as well as the prospects for their use for the diagnosis and targeted treatment of metastatic disease.

Methods. The work proposed the integrative literature review using MEDLINE, Biological Abstracts and EMBASE databases.

Results. This review summarizes and discusses historical milestones and current data concerning СTС biology, the main stages of their life cycle, their role in metastatic cascade, clinical prospects for their use as markers for the diagnosis and prognostication of the disease course, as well as targets for cancer treatment.

Conclusions. Significant progress in the area of CTC biology and their use in cancer theranostics convincingly proved the attractiveness of these cells as targets for cancer prognosis and therapy. The effective use of liquid biopsy with quantitative and phenotypic characteristics of CTCs is impeded by the imperfection of the methodology for taking biological material and by the lack of reliable markers for assessing the metastatic potential of CTCs of various origins. The variety of mechanisms of tumor cells migration and invasion requires the development of complex therapeutic approaches for anti-metastatic therapy targeting CTCs. Efforts to address these key issues could help developing new and effective cancer treatment strategies.

Key words: circulating tumor cells, circulating tumor microembols, metastasis, epithelial mesenchymal transition, minimal residual disease.

© Palladin Institute of Biochemistry of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2021