Date: 28 Aug 2009

Breast Tumor-Initiating Cells Isolated from Patient Core Biopsies for Study of Hormone Action

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Abstract

In recent years, evidence has emerged supporting the hypothesis that cancer is a stem cell disease. The cancer stem cell field was led by the discovery of leukemia stem cells (Tan, B.T., Park, C.Y., Ailles, L.E., and Weissman, I.L. (2006) The cancer stem cell hypothesis: a work in progress. Laboratory Investigation. 86, 1203–1207), and within the past few years cancer stem cells have been isolated from a number of solid tumor including those of breast and brain cancer among others (Al-Hajj M., Wicha M.S., Benito-Hernandez A., Morrison, S.J., and Clarke, M.F. (2003) Prospective identification of tumorigenic breast cancer cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100, 3983–3988; Singh, S.K., Clarke, I.D., Terasaki, M., Bonn, V.E., Hawkins, C., Squire, J., and Dirks, P.B. (2003) Identification of a Cancer Stem Cell in Human Brain Tumors. Cancer Research. 63, 5821–5828). Cancer stem cells exhibit far different properties than established cells lines such as relative quiescence, multidrug resistance, and multipotency (Clarke, M.F., Dick, J.E., Dirks, P.B., Eaves, C.J., Jamieson, C.H.M., Jones, D.L., Visvader, J., Weissman, I.L., and Wahl, G.M. (2006) Cancer Stem Cells-Perspectives on Current Status and Future Directions: AACR Workshop on Cancer Stem Cells. Cancer Research. 66, 9339–9344). In addition, our laboratory has demonstrated that breast cancer stem cells exhibit a strong metastatic phenotype when passaged in mice. Since stem cells exhibit these somewhat unique properties, it will be important for endocrinologists to evaluate hormonal action in these precursor cells for a more thorough understanding of cancer biology and development of more effective treatment modalities. A relatively easy and low cost method was developed to isolate breast cancer stem cells from primary needle biopsies taken from patients diagnosed with primary invasive ductal carcinoma during the routine care of patients with consent and IRB approval. Fresh needle biopsies (2–3 biopsies at 2 cm in length) were enzymatically dissociated in a collagenase (300 U/ml)/hyaluronidase (100 U/ml) solution followed by sequential filtration. Single cell suspensions were cultured on ultra low attachment plastic flasks in defined medium and formed non-adherent tumorspheres. The tumorspheres exhibited surface marker expression of CD44+/CD24low/−/ESA+, previously defined as a “breast cancer stem cell” phenotype by Al Hajj et al. (Al-Hajj M., Wicha M.S., Benito-Hernandez A., Morrison, S.J., and Clarke, M.F. (2003) Prospective identification of tumorigenic breast cancer cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100, 3983–3988).