Epithelial ovarian cancer cells metastasize by implanting onto the peritoneal mesothelial surface of the abdominal cavity. Adhesive molecules that lead to this implantation remain unclear. The aim of our study was to focus on the role of vitronectin (Vn) and its receptors, αv integrins and urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), in the interactions of ovarian adenocarcinoma cells (IGROV1 and SKOV3 cell lines) with mesothelial cells (MeT-5A cell line and primary cultures). For all cell lines, immunofluorescence staining disclosed the presence of Vn over the whole cell surface and in thin continuous deposits underlining the cell periphery. Recruitment of Vn receptors to cell-cell contact sites was also revealed. We developed two distinct methods for the evaluation of in vitro cell-cell adhesion using cocultures of the tumor and mesothelial cells. Both adhesion assays revealed a strong ability of ovarian cancer cells to adhere preferentially to mesothelial intercellular junctions. Adhesion of ovarian carcinoma cells to mesothelial cells was significantly inhibited using anti-Vn-, -αv-integrin- and -uPAR-blocking antibodies or cyclic peptide cRGDfV. These results evidence the ability of ovarian carcinoma cells to bind to peritoneal mesothelium in vitroand strongly suggest that Vn and its receptors contribute to this crucial event.

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