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Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Apr;93(4):1075-81. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.01.011. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

Human lung cancer cells grown on acellular rat lung matrix create perfusable tumor nodules.

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Department of Surgery, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Houston, Texas, USA.



Extracellular matrix allows lung cancer to form its shape and grow. Recent studies on organ reengineering for orthotopic transplantation have provided a new avenue for isolating purified native matrix to use for growing cells. Whether human lung cancer cells grown in a decellularized rat lung matrix would create perfusable human lung cancer nodules was tested.


Rat lungs were harvested and native cells were removed using sodium dodecyl sulfate and Triton X-100 in a decellularization chamber to create a decellularized rat lung matrix. Human A549, H460, or H1299 lung cancer cells were placed into the decellularized rat lung matrix and grown in a customized bioreactor with perfusion of oxygenated media for 7 to 14 days.


Decellularized rat lung matrix showed preservation of matrix architecture devoid of all rat cells. All three human lung cancer cell lines grown in the bioreactor developed tumor nodules with intact vasculature. Moreover, the lung cancer cells developed a pattern of growth similar to the original human lung cancer.


Overall, this study shows that human lung cancer cells form perfusable tumor nodules in a customized bioreactor on a decellularized rat lung matrix created by a customized decellularization chamber. The lung cancer cells grown in the matrix had features similar to the original human lung cancer. This ex vivo model can be used potentially to gain a deeper understanding of the biologic processes involved in human lung cancer.

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