PLC/PRF/5 is a human liver cancer cell line which synthesizes hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg). These cells produced tumor in 6 of 8 (75%) congenitally athymic nude mice at 13 of 28 subcutaneous injection sites and in 13 of 14 (93%) mice inoculated intraperitoneally. Tumors were successfully transplanted to 4 of 6 additional nude mice. Tumor growth was rapid. Growth of cephalad tumors was significantly greater than for caudal tumors (0.39 mm/day versus 0.28 mm/day). Microscopic examination of tumors showed moderately well-differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma. Foci of identical cells were present in pulmonary veins in 7 of 14 tumor-bearing animals. Tumor cell karyotype was identical with that of PLC/PRF/5 cells. In addition, HBsAg was detectable in high titer in animals with extensive tumor. Biological features of PLC/PRF/5-induced tumors in nude mice appeared to closely resemble human hepatocellular carcinoma. Moreover, HBsAg may provide a marker of tumor growth.
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