The development of improved animal models for biological and preclinical studies of human lung cancer is important because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. To determine whether the Rowett nude rat could serve as an orthotopic (organ-specific) model of this disease, nude rats (CR: NIH-RNU), with and without 500 rads of prior γ-irradiation, were implanted intrabronchially with 107 cultured cells from 3 human lung cancer lines. Without irradiation, the NCI-H460 large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma had a 54% take-rate, whereas the NCI-H125 adenosquamous carcinoma and A549 adenocarcinoma had take-rates of 7 and 33%, respectively; irradiation increased the respective take-rates to 100, 83, and 90%. In irradiated rats, tumor age versus weight measurements showed progressive growth for all three tumors, with growth rates in the order: NCI-H460 > A549 > NCI-H125, requiring approximately 3, 5, and 9 weeks, respectively, for average tumor sizes to exceed 500 mg. The small-cell carcinoma cell line NCI-H345 was implanted only into irradiated rats and resulted in more slowly growing tumors. Histopathological study showed all model tumor types to have histological characteristics consistent with the clinical tumors from which the cell lines were derived. Each tumor type had a different growth pattern, with some of the the A549- and NCI-H125-derived tumors metastasizing to contralateral lung and/or regional lymph nodes. There was no evidence for immunological rejection in irradiated, tumor-bearing rats. Nonirradiated, implanted rats without gross tumor exhibited peribronchiolar mononuclear cell infiltration with or without fibrosis, suggesting prior immunological rejection. The successful orthotopic growth of these 4 human lung cancer cell lines in irradiated nude rats suggests that this model could be useful for biological and preclinical studies of human lung cancer, both in intact rats and via ex vivo perfusion of their tumor-bearing lungs.


Supported by NIH National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group Program Grant CA46088 and University of Colorado Cancer Center Core Grant CA46934.

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