Functional characterization of osteosarcoma cell lines provides representative models to study the human disease

Lab Invest. 2011 Aug;91(8):1195-205. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2011.72. Epub 2011 Apr 25.


Cancer cell lines represent in vitro models for studying malignancies, general cell biology, drug discovery and more. Whether they can be considered as exact representative models of the parental tumors remains uncertain given the acquisition of additional ex vivo changes of the cells and the lack of tissue architecture and stroma. Previously, within the EuroBoNeT consortium, we characterized a collection of bone sarcoma cell lines on genomic and proteomic level. Here, we address the phenotypical and functional characterization of the unique set of osteosarcoma cell lines (n=19) in vitro and in vivo. For functional analysis of differentiation capacity, cells were stimulated towards osteoblasts, adipocytes and chondrocytes. Furthermore, all cell lines were injected subcutaneously and intramuscularly into nude mice to assay their in vivo tumor formation capacity as well as for phenotypical analysis of the tumors. All formed tumors were further characterized histologically and immunohistochemically. Out of 19 cell lines, 17 (89%) showed adipogenic differentiation, 13/19 (68%) could differentiate towards osteoblasts and in 6/19 (32%) cell lines chondrogenic differentiation was evident. About half of the cell lines (8/19, 42%) produced tumors in vivo after subcutaneous and intramuscular injections. Several cell lines showed invasion into adjacent tissues and one tumor developed several lung metastases. The use of cell lines, especially in cancer research, is of paramount importance. Here, we identify comprehensively characterized osteosarcoma cell lines, which robustly represent clinical osteosarcoma providing researchers useful in vitro and in vivo models to study the genetics and functional characteristics of this highly malignant neoplasm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Osteosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Sarcoma, Experimental / pathology