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Lab Invest. 2009 Jan;89(1):91-7. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2008.108. Epub 2008 Nov 10.

Differential transplantability of human endothelial cells in colorectal cancer and renal cell carcinoma primary xenografts.

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Molecular Immunology Unit, Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro, Madrid, Spain.


In vivo models of human tumor vasculature are essential for the study of tumor angiogenesis and validation of therapeutic targets. To date, however, few standardized animal models of human tumor angiogenesis have been characterized. It was recently shown that human renal cell and prostate carcinoma primary xenografts, established from biopsy specimens, contained vessels lined mainly by human endothelial cells 1 month after implantation in immunodeficient mice. We selected colorectal cancer (CRC) as a primary xenograft model and studied the response of the vascular compartment to the new microenvironment during the same lapse of time. Immunohistochemical analysis of the origin of endothelial cells demonstrated that, in contrast to the mentioned study, human endothelial cells were rapidly substituted by their murine counterparts (nearly 50% by day 10 after implantation). Apoptotic human endothelial cells could not be detected 10 days after implantation, suggesting that apoptosis is not the mechanism underlying their replacement. Interestingly, host endothelial cells were found to colocalize with human laminin, suggesting a colonization of human vascular basement membranes after human endothelial cell disappearance. To rule out that the differences observed between the fate of human vasculature in the CRC model and those previously reported were because of methodological aspects, we established renal cell carcinoma (RCC) primary xenografts using the same protocol. In clear contrast with CRC xenografts, vasculature within RCC xenografts was mostly of human origin 35 days after implantation. These results support the notion of angiogenic heterogeneity in malignant neoplasms. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that determine persistence or disappearance of human endothelial cells in different tumor contexts can help to shed light on the intimate regulation of the angiogenic process.

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