A melanoma patient-derived xenograft model

Min Xiao, Vito W. Rebecca, Meenhard Herlyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence suggests that molecular and biological properties differ in melanoma cells grown in traditional two-dimensional tissue culture vessels versus in vivo in human patients. This is due to the bottleneck selection of clonal populations of melanoma cells that can robustly grow in vitro in the absence of physiological conditions. Further, responses to therapy in two-dimensional tissue cultures overall do not faithfully reflect responses to therapy in melanoma patients, with the majority of clinical trials failing to show the efficacy of therapeutic combinations shown to be effective in vitro. Although xenografting of melanoma cells into mice provides the physiological in vivo context absent from twodimensional tissue culture assays, the melanoma cells used for engraftment have already undergone bottleneck selection for cells that could grow under two-dimensional conditions when the cell line was established. The irreversible alterations that occur as a consequence of the bottleneck include changes in growth and invasion properties, as well as the loss of specific subpopulations. Therefore, models that better recapitulate the human condition in vivo may better predict therapeutic strategies that effectively increase the overall survival of patients with metastatic melanoma. The patient-derived xenograft (PDX) technique involves the direct implantation of tumor cells from the human patient to a mouse recipient. In this manner, tumor cells are consistently grown under physiological stresses in vivo and never undergo the two-dimensional bottleneck, which preserves the molecular and biological properties present when the tumor was in the human patient. Notable, PDX models derived from organ sites of metastases (i.e., brain) display similar metastatic capacity, while PDX models derived from therapy naive patients and patients with acquired resistance to therapy (i.e., BRAF/MEK inhibitor therapy) display similar sensitivity to therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59508
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number147
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer research
  • In vivo models
  • Issue 147
  • Melanoma
  • Metastasis
  • Patient-derived xenograft
  • Resistance
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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