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Evidence for the isolation, growth, and characterization of malignant cells in primary cultures of human tumors

  • Robert L. Ochs
  • Jeffrey Fensterer
  • N. Paul Ohori
  • Alan Wells
  • Michael Gabrin
  • Lisa D. George
  • Paul Kornblith
Articles Cell and Tissue Models

Summary

Isolation and growth of malignant cells from solid tumors have often met with disappointing results. Consequently, we have developed a cell culture methodology based on ex vivo explantation of tumor tissue, with subsequent monolayer cell outgrowth. In an attempt to assess methods for detection of malignant cells in these cultures, we analyzed and compared the results of cytopathology, growth in soft agar, and detection of telomerase activity with those of standard immunohistochemistry (IHC) techniques for the detection of cytokeratins, tumor marker p53, and proliferation marker Ki-67. The sensitivity of detection of malignant cells was 85% (22/26) for cytopathological examination, 30% (3/10) for soft agar growth, and 100% (12/12) for detection of telomerase activity. From these data, we concluded that both cytopathological examination and assessment of telomerase activity contribute to the detection of malignant cells in primary cultures of human solid tumors, whereas growth in soft agar was not a good indicator of malignant cells. Although not specific for malignant cells per se, IHC detection for epithelial cell cytokeratins showed a high degree of sensitivity (100%, 23/23), whereas the sensitivity for detection of tumor marker p53 and proliferation marker Ki-67 was 30% (7/23) and 70% (16/23), respectively. These data also provide proof that malignant tumor cells, derived from a diverse number of human solid tumors, can be isolated and grown in primary cell culture.

Key words

malignant cells primary culture solid tumors 

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Copyright information

© Society for In Vitro Biology 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Ochs
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Fensterer
    • 1
  • N. Paul Ohori
    • 2
  • Alan Wells
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Gabrin
    • 1
  • Lisa D. George
    • 1
  • Paul Kornblith
    • 1
  1. 1.Precision Therapeutics, Inc.Pittsburgh
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburgh

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