• experimental metastasis;
  • melanoma cells;
  • von Willebrand factor-deficient mice

Summary. Background: The key role played by von Willebrand factor (VWF) in platelet adhesion suggests a potential implication in various pathologies, where this process is involved. In cancer metastasis development, tumor cells interact with platelets and the vessel wall to extravasate from the circulation. As a potential mediator of platelet–tumor cell interactions, VWF could influence this early step of tumor spread and therefore play a role in cancer metastasis.Objectives: To investigate whether VWF is involved in metastasis development.Methods: In a first step, we characterized the interaction between murine melanoma cells B16-BL6 and VWF in vitro. In a second step, an experimental metastasis model was used to compare the formation of pulmonary metastatic foci in C57BL/6 wild-type and VWF-null mice following the injection of B16-BL6 cells or Lewis lung carcinoma cells.Results:In vitro adhesion assays revealed that VWF is able to promote a dose-dependent adhesion of B16-BL6 cells via its Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sequence. In the experimental metastasis model, we found a significant increase in the number of pulmonary metastatic foci in VWF-null mice compared with the wild-type mice, a phenotype that could be corrected by restoring VWF plasma levels. We also showed that increased survival of the tumor cells in the lungs during the first 24 h in the absence of VWF was the cause of this increased metastasis.Conclusion: These findings suggest that VWF plays a protective role against tumor cell dissemination in vivo. Underlying mechanisms remain to be investigated.