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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2012 Dec;23(12):1685-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2012.08.025.

Spontaneous tumor regression in a syngeneic rat model of liver cancer: implications for survival studies.

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Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,600 N. Wolfe St., Blalock 545, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.



To characterize tumor growth of N1S1 cells implanted into the liver of Sprague-Dawley rats to determine if this model could be used for survival studies. These results were compared with tumor growth after implantation with McA-RH7777 cells.


N1S1 or McA-RH7777 cells were implanted into the liver of Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 20 and n = 12, respectively) using ultrasound (US) guidance, and tumor growth was followed by using US. Serum profiles of 19 cytokines were compared in naive versus tumor-bearing rats.


Both types of tumors were visible on US 1 week after tumor implantation, but the mean tumor volume of N1S1 tumors was larger compared to McA-RH7777 tumors (231 mm(3) vs 82.3 mm(3), respectively). Tumor volumes in both groups continued to increase, reaching means of 289 mm(3) and 160 mm(3) in N1S1 and McA-RH7777 groups, respectively, 2 weeks after tumor implantation. By week 3, tumor volumes had decreased considerably, and six tumors (50%) in the McA-RH7777 had spontaneously regressed, versus two (10%) in the N1S1 group. Tumor volumes continued to decrease over the following 3 weeks, and complete tumor regression of all tumors was seen 5 weeks and 6 weeks after tumor implantation in the McA-RH7777 and N1S1 groups, respectively. In an N1S1-implanted rat, multiple cytokines that have been shown to correlate with the ability of the tumor to survive in a hostile environment were increased by as much as 50%, whereas the average increase in cytokine levels was 90%. These findings suggest that the net cytokine environment favors an antitumor immune response. A similar trend was observed in a rat with a McA-RH7777 tumor, and the increase in cytokine levels was considerably more pronounced, with an average increase of 320%.


The model of N1S1 cell implantation in the liver of Sprague-Dawley rats is not ideal for survival studies and should only be used with great caution in short-term studies that involve cancer therapies.

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