Anatomy and Cell Biology Publications

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Breast cancer preferentially metastasizes to the lymph node, bone, lung, brain and liver in breast cancer patients. Previous research efforts have focused on identifying factors inherent to breast cancer cells that are responsible for this observed metastatic pattern (termed organ tropism), however much less is known about factors present within specific organs that contribute to this process. This is in part because of a lack of in vitro model systems that accurately recapitulate the organ microenvironment. To address this, an ex vivo model system has been established that allows for the study of soluble factors present within different organ microenvironments. This model consists of generating conditioned media from organs (lymph node, bone, lung, and brain) isolated from normal athymic nude mice. The model system has been validated by demonstrating that different breast cancer cell lines display cell-line specific and organ-specific malignant behavior in response to organ-conditioned media that corresponds to their in vivo metastatic potential. This model system can be used to identify and evaluate specific organ-derived soluble factors that may play a role in the metastatic behavior of breast and other types of cancer cells, including influences on growth, migration, stem-like behavior, and gene expression, as well as the identification of potential new therapeutic targets for cancer. This is the first ex vivo model system that can be used to study organ-specific metastatic behavior in detail and evaluate the role of specific organ-derived soluble factors in driving the process of cancer metastasis.

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