• Patients with human colorectal carcinoma have a poor prognosis when serum carcinoembryonic antigen level exceeds 5 ng/mL. The hypothesis that carcinoembryonic antigen enhances metastasis by promoting the attachment of tumor cells to Kupffer cells and hepatocytes was tested in an experimental metastasis model in which colorectal carcinoma cells were injected into the spleens of BALB/c athymic nude mice and liver colonies counted 5 weeks later. Pretreatment with systemic injections of carcinoembryonic antigen significantly increased the metastatic potential of a poorly metastatic colorectal carcinoma cell line KM-12c, but did not induce the nonmetastatic colorectal carcinoma cell line HC 2998 to produce metastases, nor did carcinoembryonic antigen make the highly metastatic colorectal carcinoma cell line mHC 1410 more metastatic. Carcinoembryonic antigen did not stimulate proliferation of colorectal carcinoma but appeared to be a cofactor for metastasis possibly as an adhesion factor.
(Arch Surg. 1990;125:300-304)