Human breast cancer cell line xenografts as models of breast cancer. The immunobiologies of recipient mice and the characteristics of several tumorigenic cell lines

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1996;39(1):69-86. doi: 10.1007/BF01806079.


The ability to maintain and study human tissues in an in vivo environment has proved to be a valuable tool in breast cancer research for several decades. The most widely studied tissues have been xenografts of established human breast cancer cell lines into athymic nude mice. Human breast tumor xenografts provide the opportunity to study various important interactions between the tumor and host tissues, including endocrinologic, immunologic, and tumor-stroma interactions. The nude mouse is not the only immune-deficient recipient system in which to study xenografts. Additional single and combined mutant strains have been used successfully, including mice homozygous for the severe combined immune deficiency mutation (scid), both the beige (bg) and nude (nu) mutations in combination (bg/nu), and mice bearing the combined bg/nu/xid mutations. The differing immunobiologies are discussed, with particular reference to the immunobiology of breast cancer, as are the characteristics of several of the more frequently utilized breast cancer xenografts and cell lines. The ability of several endocrine treatments to modulate effectors of cell mediated immunity, e.g., estrogens and antiestrogens, and the effect of site of inoculation on tumor take and metastasis, also are described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunologic Surveillance / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, SCID
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neoplasm Transplantation*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones