Intravital imaging to study cancer progression and metastasis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Navigation through the bulk tumour, entry into the blood vasculature, survival in the circulation, exit at distant sites and resumption of proliferation are all steps necessary for tumour cells to successfully metastasize. The ability of tumour cells to complete these steps is highly dependent on the timing and sequence of the interactions that these cells have with the tumour microenvironment (TME), including stromal cells, the extracellular matrix and soluble factors. The TME thus plays a major role in determining the overall metastatic phenotype of tumours. The complexity and cause-and-effect dynamics of the TME cannot currently be recapitulated in vitro or inferred from studies of fixed tissue, and are best studied in vivo, in real time and at single-cell resolution. Intravital imaging (IVI) offers these capabilities, and recent years have been a time of immense growth and innovation in the field. Here we review some of the recent advances in IVI of mammalian models of cancer and describe how IVI is being used to understand cancer progression and metastasis, and to develop novel treatments and therapies. We describe new techniques that allow access to a range of tissue and cancer types, novel fluorescent reporters and biosensors that allow fate mapping and the probing of functional and phenotypic states, and the clinical applications that have arisen from applying these techniques, reporters and biosensors to study cancer. We finish by presenting some of the challenges that remain in the field, how to address them and future perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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