Immune system augmentation via humanization using stem/progenitor cells and bioengineering in a breast cancer model study

Abbas Shafiee, Jacqui A. McGovern, Christoph A. Lahr, Christoph Meinert, Davide Moi, Ferdinand Wagner, Marietta Landgraf, Elena De-Juan-Pardo, Roberta Mazzieri, Dietmar W. Hutmacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Web of Science)


Despite significant advances, most current in vivo models fail to fully recapitulate the biological processes that occur in humans. Here we aimed to develop an advanced humanized model with features of an organ bone by providing different bone tissue cellular compartments including preosteoblasts, mesenchymal stem/stromal (MSCs), endothelial and hematopoietic cells in an engineered microenvironment. The bone compartment was generated by culturing the human MSCs, umbilical vein endothelial cells with gelatin methacryloyl hydrogels in the center of a melt-electrospun polycaprolactone tubular scaffolds, which were seeded with human preosteoblasts. The tissue engineered bone (TEB) was subcutaneously implanted into the NSG mice and formed a morphologically and functionally organ bone. Mice were further humanized through the tail vein injection of human cord blood derived CD34+ cells, which then populated in the mouse bone marrow, spleen and humanized TEB (hTEB). 11 weeks after CD34+ transplantation, metastatic breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231BO) were orthotopically injected. Cancer cell injection resulted in the formation of a primary tumor and metastasis to the hTEB and mouse organs. Less frequent metastasis and lower tumor burden were observed in hematochimeric mice, suggesting an immune-mediated response against the breast cancer cells. Overall, our results demonstrate the efficacy of tissue engineering approaches to study species-specific cancer-bone interactions. Further studies using genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells and bioengineered microenvironments will enable us to address the specific roles of signaling molecules regulating hematopoietic niches and cancer metastasis in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1482
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


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