Serpins promote cancer cell survival and vascular co-option in brain metastasis. Academic Article uri icon



  • Brain metastasis is an ominous complication of cancer, yet most cancer cells that infiltrate the brain die of unknown causes. Here, we identify plasmin from the reactive brain stroma as a defense against metastatic invasion, and plasminogen activator (PA) inhibitory serpins in cancer cells as a shield against this defense. Plasmin suppresses brain metastasis in two ways: by converting membrane-bound astrocytic FasL into a paracrine death signal for cancer cells, and by inactivating the axon pathfinding molecule L1CAM, which metastatic cells express for spreading along brain capillaries and for metastatic outgrowth. Brain metastatic cells from lung cancer and breast cancer express high levels of anti-PA serpins, including neuroserpin and serpin B2, to prevent plasmin generation and its metastasis-suppressive effects. By protecting cancer cells from death signals and fostering vascular co-option, anti-PA serpins provide a unifying mechanism for the initiation of brain metastasis in lung and breast cancers.

publication date

  • February 27, 2014



  • Brain
  • Brain Neoplasms
  • Fibrinolysin
  • Neuropeptides
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 2
  • Serpins


PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3988473

Scopus Document Identifier

  • 84896690172

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cell.2014.01.040

PubMed ID

  • 24581498

Additional Document Info


  • 156


  • 5