Importance of orthotopic implantation for human tumors as model systems: relevance to metastasis and invasion

Clin Exp Metastasis. 1993 Jan;11(1):5-14. doi: 10.1007/BF00880061.


Transplantation of human tumors into immunodeficient athymic nude mice has become an important experimental approach to study the biology and the treatment of human cancer. Most human tumor xenograft experiments have employed subcutaneous injection procedures, but the main limit of this technique is the lack of metastasis from the subcutaneous site. The possibility of producing experimental metastasis by intravenous injection of cells in the animals has been known for a long time, and it has been recently reported that tumorigenic properties and metastatic ability of human cancer can be altered by transplantation of the tumor into its organ or tissue of origin in the recipient animals (orthotopic transplantation). In this paper we review (1) the principal techniques of orthotopic injection of most solid tumors, (2) the most recent techniques to achieve experimental metastases, and (3) the methods for preparing tumor cell suspensions from human surgical specimens suitable for transplantation into animals. These animal models should be used for a more appropriate evaluation of new antitumor treatments including the ones targeted to inhibit metastatic spread.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation / methods*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation / pathology
  • Neoplasm Transplantation / physiology