A Novel Cell Line Based Orthotopic Xenograft Mouse Model That Recapitulates Human Hepatoblastoma

Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 19;7(1):17751. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17665-8.


Currently, preclinical testing of therapies for hepatoblastoma (HB) is limited to subcutaneous and intrasplenic xenograft models that do not recapitulate the hepatic tumors seen in patients. We hypothesized that injection of HB cell lines into the livers of mice would result in liver tumors that resemble their clinical counterparts. HepG2 and Huh-6 HB cell lines were injected, and tumor growth was monitored with bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Levels of human α-fetoprotein (AFP) were monitored in the serum of animals. Immunohistochemical and gene expression analyses were also completed on xenograft tumor samples. BLI signal indicative of tumor growth was seen in 55% of HepG2- and Huh-6-injected animals after a period of four to seven weeks. Increased AFP levels correlated with tumor growth. MRI showed large intrahepatic tumors with active neovascularization. HepG2 and Huh-6 xenografts showed expression of β-catenin, AFP, and Glypican-3 (GPC3). HepG2 samples displayed a consistent gene expression profile most similar to human HB tumors. Intrahepatic injection of HB cell lines leads to liver tumors in mice with growth patterns and biologic, histologic, and genetic features similar to human HB tumors. This orthotopic xenograft mouse model will enable clinically relevant testing of novel agents for HB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / blood supply
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental* / blood supply
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental* / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental* / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental* / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Transplantation*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic* / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic* / pathology
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays