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J Pathol. 1998 Jun;185(2):204-11.

Origin of bone-forming cells in human osteosarcomas transplanted into nude mice--which cells produce bone, human or mouse?

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Niigata University School of Medicine, Japan.


Osteosarcomas are malignant tumours producing osteoid and/or bone. It is difficult to distinguish tumour bone formation from reactive, based on their morphological features alone. The objective of this study was two-fold: to clarify the origins of bone-forming cells in human osteosarcoma transplanted into nude mice; and to examine the role of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) in the tumour-induced osteogenesis. DNA in situ hybridization was carried out with digoxigenin (DIG) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) labelled DNA probes for human-specific 'Alu' and mouse-specific 'mouse L1 (m-L1)' genes. Human osteosarcoma cells, established cell lines of NOS-1, NOS-2, and HuO9, were transplanted separately into nude mice. Bone-forming cells of the bone in the NOS-1 or NOS-2 tumours were positive for Alu, while they were negative for m-L1. The cells lining the surface of trabeculae in the HuO9 tumour were positive for Alu, but a few of them were also positive for m-L1. The m-L1-positive cells expressed mouse osteocalcin and type 1 collagen mRNAs. These facts suggest that the mouse cells were involved in osteoid synthesis of the HuO9 tumour. The NOS-1 or NOS-2 tumours expressed human BMP 2-7 mRNAs, whereas the HuO9 tumour expressed human BMPs 2, 4, 5, and 7. The osteogenetic potential of the tumours may depend on the expression patterns of BMPs. These results demonstrate two distinct types of bone formation, by tumour cells and by an admixture of tumour and non-tumour cells. The present study showed that the HuO9 tumour produces chimeric bone formation. This is the first report to demonstrate the relationships between tumour cells and non-tumour cells in bone formation, using genetic markers.

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