Send to

Choose Destination
Cancers (Basel). 2020 Feb 7;12(2). pii: E385. doi: 10.3390/cancers12020385.

Modeling Spontaneous Bone Metastasis Formation of Solid Human Tumor Xenografts in Mice.

Author information

Institute of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology, University Cancer Center Hamburg, 20251 Hamburg, Germany.
Department of Osteology and Biomechanics, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Current address: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Institute of Biochemistry and Signal Transduction, University Medical Center Hamburg, 20251 Hamburg, Germany.
Research Department Cell and Gene Therapy, Department of Stem Cell Transplantation, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.


The majority of cancer-related deaths are due to hematogenous metastases, and the bone marrow (BM) represents one of the most frequent metastatic sites. To study BM metastasis formation in vivo, the most efficient approach is based on intracardiac injection of human tumor cells into immunodeficient mice. However, such a procedure circumvents the early steps of the metastatic cascade. Here we describe the development of xenograft mouse models (balb/c rag2-/- and severe combined immunodeficient (SCID)), in which BM metastases are spontaneously derived from subcutaneous (s.c.) primary tumors (PTs). As verified by histology, the described methodology including ex vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI) even enabled the detection of micrometastases in the BM. Furthermore, we established sublines from xenograft primary tumors (PTs) and corresponding BM (BM) metastases using LAN-1 neuroblastoma xenografts as a first example. In vitro "metastasis" assays (viability, proliferation, transmigration, invasion, colony formation) partially indicated pro-metastatic features of the LAN-1-BM compared to the LAN-1-PT subline. Unexpectedly, after s.c. re-injection into mice, LAN-1-BM xenografts developed spontaneous BM metastases less frequently than LAN-1-PT xenografts. This study provides a novel methodologic approach for modelling the spontaneous metastatic cascade of human BM metastasis formation in mice. Moreover, our data indicate that putative bone-metastatic features get rapidly lost upon routine cell culture.


bioluminescence imaging; spontaneous bone marrow metastasis; xenograft mouse model

Conflict of interest statement

All authors declare that they have no financial or personal conflicts of interest related to this study.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center