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Autophagy and cancer metastasis: a Trojan horse
  1. Javad Alizadeh1,
  2. Shahrokh Lorzadeh1,
  3. Saeid Ghavami1,2,3
  1. 1 Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science, University of Manitoba College of Medicine, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  2. 2 Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology, Cancer Care Manitoba-University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  3. 3 Biology of Breathing Theme, Children Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Saeid Ghavami, University of Manitoba College of Medicine, Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5, Canada; saeid.ghavami{at}

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Metastasis is one of the most important challenges in cancer therapy strategies.1 Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of metastasis is a powerful weapon to increase the survival of patients with cancer and improve their quality of life. For the first time, Jean Claude used the term ‘metastasis’ as one of the most important hallmarks of cancer in 1829.2 Metastasis, a Greek word, means ‘displacement’ (meta meaning ‘next’ and stasis, ‘placement’).3 This term refers to a general description of migration and invasion of tumor cells from the primary tumor site to secondary sites. Metastasis is considered as one of the key etiologies of cancer-related death; therefore, understanding its mechanism in depth has been always on demand in basic and clinical sciences.4

Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is one of the several processes, which is involved in metastasis, and development of drug resistance in cancer.5 During EMT, cells gradually convert from epithelial to a mesenchymal phenotype. This enables cancer cells to be more motile, have less extracellular matrix adhesion and be prone to detachment and moving toward distant organs. Beside metastasis, EMT is involved in embryonic development, wound healing, tissue fibrosis and scar formation.6–8

Macroautophagy (hereafter …

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  • Contributors JA and SL did literature search and prepared the first draft. SL designed and prepared the figure. SG finalized and proofread the paper and did the revision.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.