Comparison of features of human lung cancer cell lines and their corresponding tumors

Ignacio I. Wistuba, David Bryant, Carmen Behrens, Sara Milchgrub, Arvind K. Virmani, Raheela Ashfaq, John D. Minna, Adi F. Gazdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Although human lung tumor-derived cell lines play an important role in the investigation of lung cancer biology and genetics, there is no comprehensive study comparing the genotypic and phenotypic properties of lung cancer cell lines with those of the individual tumors from which they were derived. We compared a variety of properties of 12 human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cell lines (cultured for a median period of 39 months; range, 12-69) and their corresponding archival tumor tissues. There was, in general, an excellent concordance between the lung tumor cell lines and their corresponding tumor tissues for morphology (100%), the presence of aneuploidy (100%), immunohistochemical expression of HER2/neu (100%) and p53 proteins (100%), loss of heterozygosity at 13 chromosomal regions analyzed (97%) using 37 microsatellite markers, microsatellite alterations (MAs, 75%), TP53 (67%), and K-ras (100%) gene mutations. In addition, there was 100% concordance for the parental allele lost in all 115 comparisons of allelic losses. Some discrepancies were found; more aneuploid subpopulations of cells were detected in the cell lines as well as higher incidences of TP53 mutations (4 of 10 mutations not found in the tumors) and microsatellite alterations (two cell lines with MAs not detected in the tumors). Similar loss of heterozygosity frequencies by chromosomal regions and mean fractional allelic loss index were detected between successfully cultured and 40 uncultured lung tumors (0.45 and 0.49, respectively), indicating that both groups were similar. Our findings indicate that the NSCLC cell lines in the large majority of instances retain the properties of their parental tumors for lengthy culture periods. NSCLC cell lines appear very representative of the lung cancer tumor from which they were derived and thus provide suitable model systems for biomedical studies of this important neoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-1000
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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