VCaP, a cell-based model system of human prostate cancer

In Vivo. Mar-Apr 2001;15(2):163-8.


Objectives: We report the isolation and characterization of a novel prostate cancer cell line derived from a vertebral metastatic lesion, Vertebral-Cancer of the Prostate (VCaP).

Methods: Prostate cancer tissue was harvested at autopsy from a metastatic lesion to a lumbar vertebral body of a patient with hormone refractory prostate cancer. This tissue was aseptically xenografted into SCID mice and later harvested and plated on tissue culture dishes. For characterization, soft agar clonegenic assay, in vivo xenograft growth, in vitro doubling time, karyotype analysis, immunocytochemistry for cytokeratin-18 expression immunochemistry for PSA (prostate specific antigen), RT PCR for PAP (prostatic acid phosphatase) and northern blot and western blot analysis to determine expression of Rb and p53, were performed. Androgen receptor expression was measured by transient transfection with a luciferase reporter construct.

Results: VCaP cells are immortal in vitro and can be passaged serially in vivo. They express large quantities of prostate specific antigen (PSA). This cell line also expresses prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), cytokeratin-18 and the androgen receptor, and is androgen sensitive in vitro and in vivo.

Conclusions: This cell line was derived from a metastatic tumor to the vertebrae of a prostate cancer patient. It exhibits many of the characteristics of clinical prostate carcinoma, including expression of PSA, PAP, and AR. We believe that VCaP will be a useful addition to the existing models of prostate cancer, and enable more advanced study of the mechanisms of prostate cancer progression and metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Division
  • Epithelial Cells / chemistry
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Spinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / cytology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Keratins
  • Acid Phosphatase
  • prostatic acid phosphatase
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen