Cancer stem cells from human breast tumors are involved in spontaneous metastases in orthotopic mouse models

Huiping Liu, Manishkumar R. Patel, Jennifer A. Prescher, Antonia Patsialou, Dalong Qian, Jiahui Lin, Susanna Wen, Ya Fang Chang, Michael H. Bachmann, Yohei Shimono, Piero Dalerba, Maddalena Adorno, Neethan Lobo, Janet Bueno, Frederick M. Dirbas, Sumanta Goswami, George Somlo, John Condeelis, Christopher H. Contag, Sanjiv Sam GambhirMichael F. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

368 Citations (Scopus)


To examine the role of breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) in metastasis, we generated human-in-mouse breast cancer orthotopic models using patient tumor specimens, labeled with optical reporter fusion genes. These models recapitulate human cancer features not captured with previous models, including spontaneous metastasis in particular, and provide a useful platform for studies of breast tumor initiation and progression. With noninvasive imaging approaches, as few as 10 cells of stably labeled BCSCs could be tracked in vivo, enabling studies of early tumor growth and spontaneous metastasis. These advances in BCSC imaging revealed that CD44+ cells from both primary tumors and lung metastases are highly enriched for tumor-initiating cells. Our metastatic cancer models, combined with noninvasive imaging techniques, constitute an integrated approach that could be applied to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying the dissemination of metastatic CSCs (MCSCs) and to explore therapeutic strategies targeting MCSCs in general or to evaluate individual patient tumor cells and predict response to therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18115-18120
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 19-10-2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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