Satisfactory experimental models for preclinical cancer studies must follow several criteria: (1) reproducibility of the method used to induce the tumor and (2) clinical, pathological and kinetic similarity with the corresponding human tumors. We developed a model of osteosarcoma locally induced by the intrafemoral injection of osteosarcoma (OSR) cells in Sprague-Dawley rats. This method yields nearly 80% of bone tumors at the injection site. These tumors double their volume fairly slowly (in approximately 20 days) and lung metastases occur in 96% of the animals. The OSR cell-induced tumor is characterized by a direct production of mineralized matrix by the tumor cells themselves, as revealed by histochemical analysis. The microarchitectural parameters which were quantified by a microscanner show an increased trabecular bone volume (+238%) when OSR cells were injected in the femur, as compared to controls injected with vehicle. Osteoblastic markers such as alkaline phosphatase, osteopontin, osteocalcin and bone sialoprotein were expressed by the tumor in vivo, whereas the initially injected OSR cells did not express some of these markers, suggesting that OSR cells reacquired an osteoblastic phenotype in a favorable environment. The clinical, radiological and histological data show that this model shares high similarities with the osteocondensing forms of osteosarcoma in humans.

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