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J Vis Exp. 2018 Nov 29;(141). doi: 10.3791/58569.

Establishment and Analysis of Tumor Slice Explants As a Prerequisite for Diagnostic Testing.

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Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), HiLIFE, University of Helsinki.
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), HiLIFE, University of Helsinki;


Organotypic primary tissue explant cultures, which include precision-cut slices, represent the three-dimensional (3-D) tissue architecture as well as the multicellular interactions of native tissue. Tissue slices immediately cut from freshly resected tumors preserve spatial aspects of intratumor heterogeneity (ITH), thus making them useful surrogates of in vivo biology. Careful optimization of tissue slice preparation and cultivation conditions is fundamental for the predictive diagnostic potential of tumor slice explants. In this regard, murine models are valuable, as these provide a consistent flow of tumor material to perform replicate and reproducible experiments. This protocol describes the culturing of murine lung tumor-derived tissue slices using a rotating incubation unit, a system that enables intermittent exposure of tissues to oxygen and nutrients. Our previous work showed that the use of rotating incubation units improves the viability of tissue compared to other culture methods, particularly floating slices and stagnant filter supports. Here, we further show that slice thickness influences the viability of cultured slices, suggesting that optimization of slice thickness should be done for different tissue types. Pronounced ITH in relevant oncogenic functions, such as signaling activities, stromal cell infiltration or expression of differentiation markers, necessitates evaluation of adjacent tissue slices for the expression of markers altered by drug treatment or cultivation itself. In summary, this protocol describes the generation of murine lung tumor slices and their culture on a rotating incubation unit and demonstrates how slices should be systematically analyzed for the expression of heterogeneous tissue markers, as a prerequisite prior to drug response studies.


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