A mouse model for peritoneal metastases of colorectal origin recapitulates patient heterogeneity

Lab Invest. 2020 Nov;100(11):1465-1474. doi: 10.1038/s41374-020-0448-x. Epub 2020 Jun 5.


The peritoneum is a common site of dissemination in patients with colorectal cancer. In order to identify high-risk patients and improve therapeutic strategies, a better understanding of the peritoneal dissemination process and the reasons behind the high heterogeneity that is observed between patients is required. We aimed to create a murine model to further elucidate the process of peritoneal dissemination and to provide an experimental platform for further studies. We developed an in vivo model to assess patterns of peritoneal dissemination of 15 colorectal cancer cell lines. Immune deficient mice were intraperitoneally injected with 10,000 human colorectal cancer cells. Ten weeks after injection, or earlier in case of severe discomfort, the mice were sacrificed followed by dissection including assessment of the outgrowth and localization of peritoneal metastases. Furthermore, using a color-based clonal tracing method, the clonal dynamics of peritoneal nodules were observed. The different cell lines showed great variation in the extent of peritoneal outgrowth, ranging from no outgrowth to localized or widespread outgrowth of cells. An association between KRAS pathway activation and the formation of peritoneal metastases was identified. Also, cell line specific tumor location preferences were observed, with similar patterns of outgrowth in anatomically related areas. Furthermore, different patterns regarding clonal dynamics were found, varying from monoclonal or polyclonal outgrowth to extensively dispersed polyclonal lesions. The established murine model recapitulates heterogeneity as observed in human peritoneal metastases, which makes it a suitable platform for future (intervention) studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms, Experimental
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Peritoneum / pathology*