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A Nude Mouse Model of Orthotopic Liver Transplantation of Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma HCCLM3 Cell Xenografts and the Use of Imaging to Evaluate Tumor Progression

Zhi-ting Xu, Hong Ding, Tian-tian Fu, Yu-li Zhu, Wen-ping Wang

Department of Ultrasound, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2019; 25:8694-8703

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.917648

Available online:

Published: 2019-11-18


BACKGROUND: This study aimed to develop a nude mouse model of orthotopic liver transplantation of HCCLM3 human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell xenografts and the use of imaging and histology to evaluate tumor development and progression.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: HCCLM3 cells were injected subcutaneously into 25 healthy male athymic BALB/c (nu/nu) nude mice. The tumors that developed were transplanted into the liver of a new set of nude mice. After four weeks and six weeks, the mice were imaged using ultrasound (US), software-assisted contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET). Histology was performed on the liver and liver tumors, and included immunohistochemistry for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), CD31, CD34, and alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA).
RESULTS: The success rate for orthotopic tumor transplantation in the mouse liver was 90% (18/20). Liver tumors measured 11.8±2.6 mm in diameter and 525.9±250.8 mm3 in volume on the sixth week. CEUS showed rapid wash-in and washout in the liver tumors, and PET showed low tumor cell metabolism. Bone metastases were present in 45% (9/20) of mice in the sixth week. Immunohistochemistry showed positive expression for VEGF, CD31, CD34, and alpha-SMA.
CONCLUSIONS: The nude mouse orthotopic liver transplantation model of human HCC was shown to be a reliable model that has the potential for future research on the pathogenesis and progression of HCC and studies on drug development.

Keywords: Carcinoma in Situ, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Mice, Nude, Models, Animal



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