Objective: To characterize a Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) cell line established from a tumor biopsy from the oral mucosa of an iatrogenically immunosuppressed HIV-negative man.
Methods: Cells were placed in culture and evaluated by a variety of biologic, serologic, karyotypic, and immunologic procedures. Electron microscopic examination was performed. The ability to produce tumors in nude mice was evaluated, and the nature of the cells within the tumor determined. Assays for urokinase plasminogen activator type (uPA), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and the urokinase receptor (uPAR) were conducted.
Results: The SLK cell line has an endothelial cell morphology with very little anaplasia. The karyotype indicates diploid phenotype of human origin. Immunohistochemical and electron microscopic examinations confirmed the endothelial nature of this cell line. No viruses were detected. The tumors induced in nude mice showed hypervascularization, with characteristics of KS. The cell line produces uPA and PAI-1, and also expresses uPAR.
Conclusions: The SLK cell line is of endothelial cell origin and the first human cell line to induce KS-like tumors in recipient animals. The expression of urokinase and its receptor suggests a paracrine and autocrine interaction that may be important for the growth of the tumor. The SLK line should be valuable for studies of KS pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches to this malignancy.