Establishment of green fluorescent protein-expressing hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines with different metastatic potential: relevant models for in vivo monitoring of metastasis and angiogenesis

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Abstract

Purpose

To establish stable green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing metastatic human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines with different metastatic potential for long-term in vivo studies of metastasis and angiogenesis.

Methods

The pIRES2-EGFP vector, which contains an enhanced GFP gene, was transfected into MHCC97-H and MHCC97-L, HCC cell lines with different metastatic potential. The stability of GFP expression, basic biological characteristics, invasion abilities in vitro, and spontaneous metastasis in vivo of the new cell lines (MHCC97-HG and MHCC97-LG) were studied. Microvessel density (MVD) of orthotopic implanted tumors was compared by anti-CD31 immunohistochemical staining, and real-time angiogenesis and metastasis of GFP-transfected tumors were detected by intravital fluorescent microscope.

Results

The GFP-transfected cell lines stably expressed green fluorescence in the absence of G418 over a 36-day period. Compared with the parental cell lines, they exhibited no distinct differences in biological characteristics. MHCC97-HG showed more aggressive invasion and spontaneous metastatic behavior than MHCC97-LG, and even its parental cell line, MHCC97-H (P<0.01). MVD levels induced by MHCC97-HG orthotopic implanted tumors were significantly higher than MHCC97-LG (P<0.01). Real-time angiogenesis and sequential steps of metastasis could be detected clearly under intravital fluorescent microscope.

Conclusions

These two stable GFP-expressing HCC cell lines with the same genetic background and different metastatic potential were established, which could be useful models for monitoring metastasis and angiogenesis of HCC.

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