An in vitro methylcellulose technique was used in an attempt to culture neuroblastoma cells from 25 bone marrows from eight children with neuroblastoma. Colonies appeared within 5 days in histologically positive bone marrows. Light microscopy, linearity study, and marker study provided evidence for the neuroblastoma origin of the colonies. These colonies could be distinguished from other colonies under the inverted microscope because of its distinct feature. In one case, the characteristic morphology of neuroblastoma was shown in 3 days of culture, while histological evidence is absent. The diagnosis of neuroblastoma was confirmed by subsequent catecholamine determination. All histologically negative specimens formed no colonies, while all positive specimens formed more than three colonies. Potential application of this culturing technique for monitoring of bone marrow involvement and differential diagnosis in children with neuroblastoma is presented.

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This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education (No. 59440048).

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