Investigation of mammary epithelial cell-bone marrow stroma interactions using primary human cell culture as a model of metastasis

B Brooks, N J Bundred, A Howell, S H Lang, N G Testa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A model has been established using primary human cell culture to study the cell biology of breast cancer metastasis to bone marrow. Mammary epithelia were obtained in single cell suspension from tumour (macroscopically involved), benign (macroscopically uninvolved) and normal (reduction mammoplasty) breast tissue as well as from locally involved lymph nodes. Stromal layers were generated from long-term cultures of human bone marrow or from mammary fibroblasts derived from normal or malignant tissue. The interaction between epithelia and stroma has been studied in terms of adhesion of the epithelia to the stroma and their subsequent growth in co-culture. Our results show that when assayed up to 9 hr after plating, epithelial cells from malignant tissue (14 primary tumours and 9 metastases in lymph nodes) displayed a significant preference for adhesion to bone marrow stroma compared with mammary fibroblasts. In contrast, epithelial cells from 4 normal and 2 of 4 benign samples showed no significant preferential adherence. Subsequent co-culture of mammary epithelia with each of the 3 stromal layers revealed that under serum-free, in vitro conditions, bone marrow stromal layers did not provide an advantageous environment for colony growth, in contrast to their ability to provide a preferential substratum for adhesion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-6
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 1997


  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Breast
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Stromal Cells
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigation of mammary epithelial cell-bone marrow stroma interactions using primary human cell culture as a model of metastasis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this