Cell Migration

By | June 10, 2022

In order to fulfill their function in the body, some cells have to move from one place to another. During this cell migration, they use the cell’s own structures and are attracted by foreign substances at the same time. Misdirected cells contribute to the development and aggravation of diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and atherosclerosis.

What is cell migration?

The term “cell migration” refers to the movement of a cell within the organism. Most of the cells are constantly in motion. With cell migration, there are undirected and targeted migration movements, depending on the type of cell and what task it has to fulfill (construction of new tissue, defense against pathogens, etc.).¬†For meanings of hip arthrosis, please visit polyhobbies.com.

Targeted movements are usually triggered by certain attractants. Many cell migrations are useful for the organism. Others, in turn, cause diseases to develop or aggravate existing diseases. Sometimes one and the same molecule is even used for supporting and damaging cell migration.

During cell migration, cells move in different ways. In phase 1 of the movement, for example, the cell stretches out its appendages and hooks some of them onto the substrate. This is how she determines the direction of her movement. In phase 2, the anchored extensions pull the cell in the specified direction and then release again. The direction of cell migration is determined by the Golgi apparatus present in each cell .

Thanks to modern laser microscopy and innovative protein labeling methods, cell migration can now be examined in detail.

Function & task

Cell migration has different goals. The germ line cells present in the embryo migrate to where the respective sex organ will later form. For example, in the germline cells of the zebra-fish embryo (in which the hitherto relatively unknown cell migration has already been researched more extensively), cell migration takes place with the aid of the proteins that originally held the blastomeres together (E-cadherins), the transcription factor Oct4 and the epidermal growth factor EGF. The former blastomeres attach themselves to the neighboring cells with the sticky E-cadherins and pull themselves along them. Other cells migrate to their destination and combine with other types of cells to form a cell group (organ).

Immune cells initially drift aimlessly in the bloodstream and then pounce on pathogens to eliminate them: leukocytes use chemokine receptors such as Cxcr4b to track down dangerous pathogens. Chemokines are molecules that act as guides in cell migration. Other leukocytes repair those caused by atherosclerosis damaged inner wall of the vessel. They move with the bloodstream and attach themselves to the cells of the vessel wall. Then they feel the surface of the wall with their appendages. If they perceive the chemical signal of an inflamed cell, they flatten out and try to cross the border between the cells of the vessel wall. In doing so, it is assumed that they imitate the chemical signal of the inflamed cell, which they use as a key.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Cell migration in the organism is a normal process that usually goes unnoticed. On the contrary, the lack of cell migration of certain cells would put the viability of the organism in question. For example, immune cells have to constantly migrate through the organism to protect it from pathogens.

However, as part of the fight against infection, they produce inflammation at the site of infection. The tissue heats up there. If the pathogens are already widespread in the body, the body temperature increases. Here, the cell migration of the immune cells is a normal consequence of the infection, which then produces the typical symptoms of the disease due to the fight of the released immune cells with the pathogens.

However, immune cells can also be misdirected and attack the body’s own tissue and thus cause a wide variety of complaints. These are then autoimmune diseases. Multiple sclerosis, for example, is an autoimmune disease. Here the insulating layer of nerve cells is destroyed. The patient suffers from paralysis, visual disturbances and sensory disturbances of the skin.

In addition, there are premature exhaustion, concentration disorders , memory disorders, depression and much more. Arteriosclerosis is also caused by incorrect cell migration. In this way, the immune cells migrate to the cholesterol that has settled on the vessel walls and try to break it down. In this attempt, they transform into so-called foam cells, which as plaques can clog the blood vessels. Finally, one of the negative aspects of cell migration is the spread of cancer cells in the organism. This results in metastases in other organs, which make curative cancer treatment difficult or even impossible.

Diseases & Ailments

Diseases occur when cells in the body do not migrate as they should. Enzymes such as matrix metalloproteases (MMP) make vascular walls and tissue so perforated that misdirected cells can pass through them. The factor SDF-1, which is responsible for the migration of zebrafish germline cells, is also used for harmful “work” in the body: It is also involved in the formation of cancer metastases, the development of arthritis and the spread of HIV infection in the body.

Inside the cells of the metastatic cells of some types of cancer are MAPKs, proteins that trigger cell migration, initiate cell division and are even responsible for the degeneration of the cells. The MAP kinases are held in place in the cell nucleus by a protein called STYX (pseudophosphatase). If the enzyme is destroyed, the cell’s Golgi apparatus also divides, so that the cell is no longer capable of targeted migration. Since, for example, a greatly increased proportion of the STYX protein is found in breast cancer patients, scientists assume that an effective cancer drug would have to be designed in such a way that it switches off the STYX in order to prevent the cancer from metastasizing.

The epidermal growth factor EGF apparently also plays a crucial role in the migration of cancer cells. If its receptor is destroyed by a mutation, EGF is permanently active: it constantly stimulates the cancer cells to migrate. Skin cancer cells have developed a special way of migrating. They simply turn bubbles inside out and restructure their flexible cell skeleton in the process.

In multiple sclerosis, immune cells are reprogrammed so that they not only attack harmful pathogens but also healthy cells. The pathogens form structures on their cell surface that are similar to those of the body’s own cells and thus attract the immune cells. If they then eat them, the immune cells memorize the molecular structure and then also attack healthy cells in the body.

The transformed immune cells move around the body more aggressively because they now have more molecules to move through tissues with. They can even cross the blood-brain barrier, which is impassable for most substances. In the brain, they attack healthy tissue and thus trigger the flare-ups that MS patients fear: They deactivate the cells that build the protective myelin layer around the nerve cells. This permanently weakens the nerve cells and disrupts the transmission of information.


Cell migration is a natural endogenous process that normally causes no complications. However, if the cells in the body do not migrate as intended, diseases can occur. Depending on where in the body misdirection of the cells occurs, this can lead to harmless temporary symptoms, but also to serious illnesses such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.

Misguided cells are favored by enzymes such as matrix metalloproteases. These damage vascular walls and tissue, thereby allowing the cells to misroute to other parts of the body. Other enzymes and substances can also cause cell migration and thus promote diseases such as arthritis and cancer. The spread of HI viruses in the body is also promoted by misguided cells.

There is also an increased risk of multiple sclerosis, nerve damage and countless other diseases and symptoms, each of which is associated with serious complications. The cell migration itself is unproblematic, but the processes that are set in motion have serious consequences for health. A treatment of the cell migration is not possible, since this takes place within the smallest molecules and the misdirections occur randomly.

When should you go to the doctor?

In many cases, cell migration is only noticed late by the person concerned. There are often diffuse health irregularities that cannot be explained at first. A check-up visit to a doctor should therefore always be carried out at regular intervals. The general state of health is recorded and compared with the standard values. In the event of anomalies, there is the possibility of being able to react immediately. In addition, a doctor’s visit is necessary if there are disturbances in concentration or attention, behavioral problems or a general feeling of illness. If the person concerned suffers from a depressed mood and everyday obligations can no longer be fulfilled as usual, there is a need for action.

If you have vision or mobility problems, see a doctor as soon as possible. Paralysis and sensory disorders also require medical care. If swelling is noticed on the body, there are changes in the complexion or participation in social life is reduced, these complaints should be discussed with a doctor. If irregularities such as headaches or fever appear, the person concerned needs medical treatment. If premature exhaustion occurs repeatedly in the course of the day despite a restful night’s sleep, this process is to be regarded as an indication of a health disorder. Investigations are necessary to enable a diagnosis to be made.


Follow-up care for misguided cell migration depends on the cause. In the case of cancer or multiple sclerosis, follow-up care takes place as soon as the condition has been cured. It can include medical follow-up examinations, discussions with therapists or further specialist visits. As part of the follow-up care, the trigger for the misdirected cells is corrected, insofar as this is possible.

In the case of cancer, for example, a change in lifestyle is necessary. This can prevent the cells from being misrouted again. Follow-up care is provided by the responsible specialist. Which doctor is responsible also depends on the underlying disease. If necessary, several doctors are involved, for example to guide a final physiotherapy or to control the drug treatment.

Depending on the cause, nutritionists or sports physicians can also be part of the aftercare. Patients should have regular medical check-ups after treatment. From a certain age, the routine examinations for cancer screening are covered by health insurance.

It is important to discuss the options for aftercare with the family doctor and to initiate the necessary steps together with a specialist. Depending on the disease, the aftercare of a misguided cell migration can be a long-term process that has to be adjusted again and again.

You can do that yourself

The process of cell migration is a natural process that cannot be consciously perceived and controlled. For this reason, the options for self-help in the event of disruptions and irregularities of any kind are limited.

Overall, the person concerned can ensure that they lead a healthy lifestyle and should immediately seek cooperation with a doctor if there are health problems or functional limitations. If swelling or other abnormalities occur, check-ups are necessary. Preventative measures can be taken at regular intervals. In every age group there is the possibility to have the general state of health checked by the family doctor. This offer should be used over the entire life span.

If the general susceptibility to infection increases, increased attention is required. With a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, sufficient exercise and a body weight in the normal BMI range, it is considered alarming if inflammation or infections occur more frequently. A persistent, slightly elevated body temperature is also to be interpreted as a warning signal from the organism.

To avoid malfunctions occurring, work should be carried out under optimal lighting conditions, for example, and the organism should be protected from general stress conditions. Balanced sleep prevents problems with concentration or memory. Likewise, emotional and physical stressors should be reduced to a minimum.

Cell Migration