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Cancer Lett. 2003 Jul 18;197(1-2):35-9.

A role for distinct cell types in determining malignancy in human neuroblastoma cell lines and tumors.

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Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458, USA.


Human neuroblastoma arises from the developing neural crest. Tumors are categorized clinically by their location, age at diagnosis, spread/metastasis, and degree of cellular maturation and heterogeneity. Our long-term studies have shown the presence in human neuroblastoma cell lines of three distinct cell types: I-type stem cells, N-type neuroblastic/neuroendocrine precursors, and S-type Schwannian/melanoblastic precursors. These distinct cell types can differentiate predictably along specific neural crest lineages in response to particular morphogens. As assessed by tumor formation in nude mice and anchorage-independent growth in soft agar, I-type stem cells are significantly more malignant than either N- or S-type cells. Recent research shows that three similar cell types are also present in human neuroblastoma tumors. Using immunocytochemical, laser-capture microdissection, or short-term culture methods to identify cell types in tumors of different stages and/or different outcomes, these studies have shown that (1) all tumors contain neuroblasts in various differentiation states; (2) presumptive I-type stem cells are present in tumors of all stages; and (3) stromal cells may be tumor-derived, i.e. S-type cells, as well as of normal origin. More importantly, there is a higher incidence of I-type cells in tumors that progress, consistent with the high malignant potential of this cell type in vitro. A better understanding of the cause and consequences of cellular heterogeneity of human neuroblastoma tumors is an important prerequisite to the development of more effective therapies for this often fatal disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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