Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences

First Advisor

Xin Guo

First Committee Member

Melanie Felmlee

Second Committee Member

Jesika S. Faridi


Lung cancer leads in mortality among all types of cancer in the US and Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the major type of lung cancer. Immuno-compromised mice bearing xenografts of human lung cancer cells represent the most common animal models for studying lung cancer biology and for evaluating potential anticancer agents. However, orthotopic lung cancer models based on intrapulmonary injection of suspended cancer cells feature premature leakage of the cancer cells to both sides of the lung within five days, which generates a quick artifact of metastasis and thus belies the development and progression of lung cancer as seen in the clinic.

Based on intrapulmonary inoculation of multicellular spheroids (MCS), we have developed the first orthotopic xenograft model of lung cancer that simulates all four clinical stages of NSCLC progression in mice over one month: Stage 1 localized tumor at the inoculation site; Stage 2 multiple tumor nodules or larger tumor nodule on the same side of the lung; Stage 3 cancer growth on heart surface; and Stage 4 metastatic cancer on both sides of the lung. The cancer development was monitored conveniently by in vivo fluorescent imaging and validated by open-chest anatomy, ex vivo fluorescent imaging, and histological studies. The model enjoys high rates of postoperative survival (100%) and parenchymal tumor establishment (88.9%). The roughness of the inoculated MCS is associated negatively with the time needed to develop metastatic cancer (p=0.0299).

In addition, we have constructed a co-culture MCS that consisted of A549-iRFP lung cancer cells and WI38 normal human fibroblast cells. The pro-proliferation effect and the high expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) by the co-cultured WI38 cells indicated their transformation from normal fibroblasts to cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). The morphology of the co-culture MCS features a round shape, a tight internal structure, and quicker development of roughness. The large roughness value of co-culture MCS suggests that small co-culture MCS could be inoculated into mice lung with a small needle to reduce the surgical trauma.

Taken together, a new orthotopic model of NSCLC has been developed, which would facilitate future development of medications against lung cancer.





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