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Chin Med J (Engl). 2008 Oct 20;121(20):1980-6.

A novel mouse model of human breast cancer stem-like cells with high CD44+CD24-/lower phenotype metastasis to human bone.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210029, China.



A satisfactory animal model of breast cancer metastasizing to bone is unavailable. In this study, we used human breast cancer stem-like cells and human bone to build a novel "human-source" model of human breast cancer skeletal metastasis.


Human breast cancer stem-like cells, the CD44+/CD24-/lower subpopulation, was separated and cultured. Before injection with the stem-like cells, mice were implanted with human bone in the right or left dorsal flanks. Animals in Groups A, B, and C were injected with 1 x 10(5), 1 x 10(6) human breast cancer stem-like cells, and 1 x 10(6) parental MDA-MB-231 cells, respectively. A positive control group (D) without implantation of human bone was also injected with 1 x 10(6) MDA-MB-231 cells. Immunohistochemistry was performed for determination of CD34, CD105, smooth muscle antibody, CD44, CD24, cytokine, CXC chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4), and osteopontin (OPN). mRNA levels of CD44, CD24, CXCR4, and OPN in bone metastasis tissues were analyzed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


Our results demonstrated that cells in implanted human bones of group B, which received 1 x 10(6) cancer stem-like cells, stained strongly positive for CD44, CXCR4, and OPN, whereas those of other groups showed no or minimum staining. Moreover, group B had the highest incidence of human bone metastasis (77.8%, P = 0.0230) and no accompaniment of other tissue metastasis. The real-time PCR showed an increase of CD44, CXCR4, and OPN mRNA in metastatic bone tissues in group B compared with those of groups C and D, however the expression of CD24 mRNA in group B were the lowest.


In the novel "human source" model of breast cancer, breast cancer stem-like cells demonstrated a higher human bone-seeking ability. Its mechanism might be related to the higher expressions of CD44, CXCR4, and OPN, and the lower expression of CD24 in breast cancer stem-like cells.

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