Patient-Derived Xenograft Models for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Demonstrate Retention of Tumor Morphology Through Incorporation of Murine Stromal Elements Academic Article uri icon


  • Direct implantation of viable surgical specimens provides a representative preclinical platform in pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Patient-derived xenografts consistently demonstrate retained tumor morphology and genetic stability. However, the evolution of the tumor microenvironment over time remains poorly characterized in these models. This work specifically addresses the recruitment and incorporation of murine stromal elements into expanding patient-derived pancreatic adenocarcinoma xenografts, establishing the integration of murine cells into networks of invading cancer cells. In addition, we provide methods and observations in the establishment and maintenance of a patient-derived pancreatic adenocarcinoma xenograft model. A total of 25 histologically confirmed pancreatic adenocarcinoma specimens were implanted subcutaneously into nonobese diabetic severe combined immunodeficiency mice. Patient demographics, staging, pathological analysis, and outcomes were analyzed. After successful engraftment of tumors, histological and immunofluorescence analyses were performed on explanted tumors. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma specimens were successfully engrafted in 15 (60%) of 25 attempts. Successful engraftment does not appear to correlate with clinicopathologic factors or patient survival. Tumor morphology is conserved through multiple passages, and tumors retain metastatic potential. Interestingly, despite morphological similarity between passages, human stromal elements do not appear to expand with invading cancer cells. Rather, desmoplastic murine stroma dominates the xenograft microenvironment after the initial implantation. Recruitment of stromal elements in this manner to support and maintain tumor growth represents a novel avenue for investigation into tumor-stromal interactions.

publication date

  • 2015-05-01