Characterization of human malignant mesothelioma cell lines orthotopically implanted in the pleural cavity of immunodeficient mice for their ability to grow and form metastasis

BMC Cancer . 2006 May 17;6(1):130 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Martarelli D, Catalano A, Procopio A, Orecchia S, Libener R, Santoni G.


Background:Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a tumor known to be resistant to conventional therapies. Thus, an in vivo model can represent an important tool for assessing the efficacy of novel approaches in the treatment of MPM. Presently, human MPM cells have been grown orthotopically in mice upon transplantation of tumor masses or tumor cell suspensions following surgery. In these models however, surgery can interfere with the tumor growth and the early stages of tumor development cannot be easily explored. Finally, results may not be so accurate due to implantation of potentially different tumor samples in different experimental groups. Our work aimed at establishing a nude mouse model xenotransplanted with human MPM cell lines in which tumor progression exhibits some features of the human disease.

Methods: Three distinct human MPM cell lines previously established from MPM patients displaying two different phenotypes, biphasic (MM-B1 and IST-Mes3) and epithelioid (IST-Mes2), were directly injected into the pleural cavity of nude mice. At different times, mice were sacrificed for autopsy, tumor nodules were counted and then removed for histology. Presence of metastases in visceral organs was also monitored.

Results: IST-Mes2 cells were unable to grow in nude mice. MM-B1 and IST-Mes3 cells were capable of growing in nude mice and formed tumor nodules in the pleura. Post-mortem examination showed that MPM cells progressively colonized the parietal and visceral pleura, the diaphragm, the mediastinum and, lastly the lung parenchyma. No pneumo-thorax was evidenced in the mice. Pleural effusions as well as lymph node metastases were observed only at later times.

Conclusions: This model mimics the progression of human malignant mesothelioma and it is easy to perform and reproducible; therefore it can be useful to study human MPM biology and evaluate the efficacy of novel therapies.