Spontaneous murine tumors in the development of patient-derived xenografts: a potential pitfall

Ann M. Moyer, Jia Yu, Jason P. Sinnwell, Travis J. Dockter, Vera J. Suman, Richard M. Weinshilboum, Judy C. Boughey, Matthew P. Goetz, Daniel W. Visscher, Liewei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Patient-derived xenografts (PDX) are generated in immune deficient mice and demonstrate histologic and molecular features similar to their corresponding human tumors. However, murine tumors (non-human) spontaneously occur in these models. 120 consecutive patients with high-risk primary breast cancer enrolled in the prospective neoadjuvant BEAUTY study had tumor tissue obtained at the time of diagnosis. These tumor cells, including initial tissue and subsequent generations, were injected into either NSG (n = 365) or NOD-SCID (n = 396) female mice. Mice with initial tumor growth sufficient for transfer to the 2nd generation underwent histologic review by pathologists, including Ki67 staining. After passaging the tumors for up to 4 generations, at least one primary mouse tumor was detected from 24 of the 54 PDX-lines, for a frequency of 3.2% (24 mice out of 761 mice), including murine lymphomas (n = 13), mammary tumors (n = 7), osteosarcomas (n = 2), and hemangiosarcomas (n = 2). While true PDX showed scattered strong staining with Ki67, murine tumors were Ki67 negative. No significant differences (p = 0.062) were observed comparing development of murine tumors in NOD-SCID (n = 8) vs NSG mice (n = 16). While PDX are a useful tool in cancer research, there is a potential for spontaneous murine tumors to arise, which could alter results of studies utilizing PDX. Morphologic review by a pathologist, potentially along with Ki67 staining, is necessary to ensure that tumor growth represents the desired PDX prior to use in downstream studies. This study is the first prospective study evaluating the frequency, type, and time frame for development of non-human tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3924-3930
Number of pages7
Issue number39
StatePublished - 2019


  • Breast cancer
  • Ki67
  • NOD-SCID mice
  • NSG mice
  • Patient-derived xenografts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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