Chorioallantoic membrane assay: vascularized 3-dimensional cell culture system for human prostate cancer cells as an animal substitute model

J Urol. 2001 Oct;166(4):1502-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(05)65820-x.


Purpose: Chorioallantoic membranes have been used as a reliable biomedical assay system for many years. Chicken eggs in the early phase of breeding are between in vitro and in vivo systems but may provide an immunodeficient, vascularized test environment. We tested this model as an in vivo system for prostate cancer research.

Materials and methods: Single cell suspensions of LNCaP, PC-3 and Tsu-Pr1 human prostatic cancer cell lines as well as 2 immortalized normal human prostate epithelial cell lines were inoculated on the chorioallantoic membrane of fertilized chicken eggs on day 5 or 6 of breeding. Tumor growth and viability of the embryo was evaluated by stereo microscopy. At day 10 the membranes were removed and embedded in paraffin. Cell morphology was assessed after hematoxylin and eosin staining. Cellular expression of cytokeratin, prostate specific antigen and androgen receptor as well as apoptosis induction was confirmed by immunohistochemistry.

Results: Three days after tumor cell inoculation on the extraembryonic vascular system of the chorioallantoic membrane cell growth and formation of 3-dimensional tumors became apparent in 100% of inoculated membranes. Strong neo-angiogenesis was detected next to the established tumors and tumor cells invading the stroma of the chorioallantoic membrane. Cytokeratin expression as well as prostate specific antigen and androgen receptor in LNCaP cells confirmed the human prostate tumor origin. Assessment of quantitative in vivo apoptosis induction in LNCaP cells after intravenous injection of the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate confirmed the model as a versatile in vivo system.

Conclusions: The well vascularized chorioallantoic membrane of bred chicken eggs is a suitable system for early in vivo cancer research. Reliable growth of prostate cancer cell lines is feasible and allows the evaluation of proliferation and apoptosis induction after intravascular or topic application of anticancer drugs. Exploitation of this assay enables a substantial reduction in or substitution for subsequent animal experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allantois*
  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chorion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*