Medulloblastoma (MB) represents the most frequent malignant brain tumor of childhood but only a few cell lines and animal models of this primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) have thus far been established. Using specific cell culture conditions, we were able to derive four human MB cell lines (MHH-MED-1-4) as well as a cell line from a spinal PNET (MHH-PNET-5). The four MB cell lines grew in suspension as floating cell aggregates or as slightly adherent cells. They consisted of undifferentiated cells that did not express markers of late neuronal or glial lineages such as neurofilaments or glial fibrillary acidic protein. They also lacked expression of major histocompatibility complex class I or II antigens on the cell surface. All four MB lines were positive for vimentin and neuron-specific enolase, whereas synaptophysin, neural cell adhesion molecule, galactocerebroside, GD2, GD3, and the A2B5 antigen were expressed inconsistently. In contrast, MHH-PNET-5 grew as adherent monolayer and expressed major histocompatibility complex class I antigen. By cytogenetic analysis, the lines were near diploid with clonal aberrations. The MB lines showed no losses of chromosome arm 17p by either cytogenetic or microsatellite analyses. The cell line MHH-MED-2 exhibited double minute chromosomes, amplification of the c-myc gene, and overexpression of c-myc mRNA and protein. N-myc, p53, and Rb protein expression were unaltered. All four continuously passaged MB cell lines and the MHH-PNET-5 line were xenotransplanted s.c. into athymic mice; three of four MB lines and the spinal PNET line gave rise to tumors. These cell lines will be useful tools for biological and preclinical studies on PNETs.

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This work was supported by the Dr. Mildred Scheel-Stiftung für Krebsforschung Grant W 42/91/Pi 1.

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