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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026810. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Optimized mouse model for the imaging of tumor metastasis upon experimental therapy.

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  • 1Cancer Gene Therapy Group, Molecular Cancer Biology Program, Transplantation Laboratory, Haartman Institute and Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

Development of new cancer treatments focuses increasingly on the relation of cancer tissue with its microenvironment. A major obstacle for the development of new anti-cancer therapies has been the lack of relevant animal models that would reproduce all the events involved in disease progression from the early-stage primary tumor until the development of mature metastatic tissue. To this end, we have developed a readily imageable mouse model of colorectal cancer featuring highly reproducible formation of spontaneous liver metastases derived from intrasplenic primary tumors. We optimized several experimental variables, and found that the correct choice of cell line and the genetic background, as well as the age of the recipient mice, were critical for establishing a useful model system. Among a panel of colorectal cancer cell lines tested, the epithelial carcinoma HT29 line was found to be the most suitable in terms of producing homogeneous tumor growth and metastases. In our hands, SCID mice at the age of 125 days or older were the most suitable in supporting consistent HT29 tumor growth after splenic implantation followed by reproducible metastasis to the liver. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol was optimized for use with this mouse model, and demonstrated to be a powerful method for analyzing the antitumor effects of an experimental therapy. Specifically, we used this system to with success to verify by MRI monitoring the efficacy of an intrasplenically administered oncolytic adenovirus therapy in reducing visceral tumor load and development of liver metastases. In summary, we have developed a highly optimized mouse model for liver metastasis of colorectal cancer, which allows detection of the tumor load at the whole body level and enables an accurate timing of therapeutic interventions to target different stages of cancer progression and metastatic development.

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