Pre-clinical imaging for establishment and comparison of orthotopic non-small cell lung carcinoma: in search for models reflecting clinical scenarios
OBJECTIVE:: Clinically relevant animal models of non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) are required for the validation of novel treatments. We compared two different orthotopic transplantation techniques as well as imaging modalities to identify suitable mouse models mimicking clinical scenarios. METHODS:: We used three genomically diverse NSCLC cell lines [National Cancer Institute (NCI)-H1703 adenosquamous cell carcinoma, NCI-H23 adenocarcinoma and A549 adenocarcinoma) for implanting tumour cells either as spheroids or cell suspension into lung parenchyma. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and contrast-enhanced cone beam CT (CBCT) were performed twice weekly to monitor tumour growth. Tumour histological data and microenvironmental parameters were determined. RESULTS:: Tumour development after spheroid-based transplantation differs probably due to the integrity of spheroids, as H1703 developed single localised nodules, whereas H23 showed diffuse metastatic spread starting early after transplantation. A549 transplantation as cell suspension with the help of a stereotactic system was associated with initial single localised tumour growth and eventual metastatic spread. Imaging techniques were successfully applied to monitor longitudinal tumour growth: BLI revealed highly sensitive qualitative data, whereas CBCT was associated with less sensitive quantitative data. Histology revealed significant model-dependent heterogeneity in proliferation, hypoxia, perfusion and necrosis. CONCLUSION:: Our developed orthotopic NSCLC tumours have similarity with biological growth behaviour comparable to that seen in the clinic and could therefore be used as attractive models to study tumour biology and evaluate new therapeutic strategies. The use of human cancer cell lines facilitates testing of different genomic tumour profiles that may affect treatment outcomes. ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE:: The combination of different imaging modalities to identify tumour growth with subsequent use in treatment planning and orthotopic transplantation techniques to develop initially single lesions to ultimate metastases pave the way towards representative pre-clinical NSCLC models for experimental testing of novel therapeutic options in future studies.