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Am J Pathol. 2001 Sep;159(3):855-60.

Establishment of short-term primary human prostate xenografts for the study of prostate biology and cancer.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599, USA.


Human tissue xenograft models are currently the only tool for conducting in vivo analyses of intact human tissue. The goal of the present study was to develop reliable methods for successful generation of short-term primary tissue xenografts from benign and tumor-derived human prostate tissue. Primary human prostate xenografts were established in athymic nu/nu mice from eight of eight benign and five of five prostate cancer tissues, collected from a total of 10 patients who underwent radical prostatectomy for the treatment of prostate cancer. An average of 13 xenografts was established per specimen. Two tissue specimens were cryopreserved for >1 month before successful generation of prostate xenografts. After 1 month in vivo, xenograft tissues were harvested and examined regarding: gross evidence of vascularization; tissue morphology; proliferation; apoptosis; and expression of androgen receptor, prostate-specific antigen, and high molecular weight cytokeratins specific for basal cells in the prostate. Direct comparison of the original tissue specimen and the 1-month xenografts revealed similar histology; similar apoptotic and proliferative fractions in most cases; and comparable expression levels and expression patterns of androgen receptor, prostate-specific antigen, and high molecular weight cytokeratins. These data demonstrate that primary human prostate xenografts, benign and malignant, can be established routinely from human prostate tissue surgical specimens, and that the xenografts maintain tissue architecture and expression of key prostatic markers. The development of this methodology, including the technique for cryopreservation of human tissue, will allow multiple (successive) analyses of human prostate tissue to be conducted throughout time using a tissue sample derived from a single patient; and simultaneous analysis of human prostate tissues derived from a cohort of patients.

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