Protocols for Migration and Invasion Studies in Prostate Cancer

  • Arjanneke F. van de Merbel
  • Geertje van der Horst
  • Jeroen T. Buijs
  • Gabri van der PluijmEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1786)


Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy diagnosed in men in the western world. The development of distant metastases and therapy resistance are major clinical problems in the management of prostate cancer patients. In order for prostate cancer to metastasize to distant sites in the human body, prostate cancer cells have to migrate and invade neighboring tissue. Cancer cells can acquire a migratory and invasive phenotype in several ways, including single cell and collective migration. As a requisite for migration, epithelial prostate cancer cells often need to acquire a motile, mesenchymal-like phenotype. This way prostate cancer cells often lose polarity and epithelial characteristics (e.g., expression of E-cadherin homotypic adhesion receptor), and acquire mesenchymal phenotype (for example, cytoskeletal rearrangements, enhanced expression of proteolytic enzymes and other repertory of integrins). This process is referred to as epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Cellular invasion, one of the hallmarks of cancer, is characterized by the movement of cells through a three-dimensional matrix, resulting in remodeling of the cellular environment. Cellular invasion requires adhesion, proteolysis of the extracellular matrix, and migration of cells. Studying the migratory and invasive ability of cells in vitro represents a useful tool to assess the aggressiveness of solid cancers, including those of the prostate.

This chapter provides a comprehensive description of the Transwell migration assay, a commonly used technique to investigate the migratory behavior of prostate cancer cells in vitro. Furthermore, we will provide an overview of the adaptations to the Transwell migration protocol to study the invasive capacity of prostate cancer cells, i.e., the Transwell invasion assay. Finally, we will present a detailed description of the procedures required to stain the Transwell filter inserts and quantify the migration and/or invasion.

Key words

Prostate cancer Migration Invasion Transwell migration assay Transwell invasion assay 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arjanneke F. van de Merbel
    • 1
  • Geertje van der Horst
    • 1
  • Jeroen T. Buijs
    • 1
  • Gabri van der Pluijm
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of UrologyLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands

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