Liver Cancer Xenograft

Altogen Labs validated Liver Cancer Xenograft animal models:

Hep3B, HepG2, SK-HEP1, SMMC-7721, H22SNU398Hepa1-6, Huh7

Xenotransplantation studies have been a backbone of oncology research for four decades, and provide an effective research and evaluation environment for novel pharmaceutical compounds. Typically, these studies involve the implantation of tumorigenic human cell lines into immunocompromised mice, providing scientists with an in vivo model of tumor behavior in which to perform experiments including screening of novel cancer therapies, studies of cell behavior, and examination of metastasis. Patient-derived xenografts are a fundamental part of in vivo pharmacological research, aiding in the translation from benchtop to bedside.

Liver cancer, or hepatic carcinoma, symptoms include a painful lump on the right side under the rib cage, abdomen swelling, yellowing of the skin, weight loss and easy bruising. Causes include hepatitis B induced cirrhosis, hepatitis C, alcohol, aflatoxin, liver flukes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Types of liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the primary type), cholangiocarcinoma, mucinous cystic neoplasm as well as intraductal papillary biliary neoplasm. Detection typically happens via body imaging systems such as ultrasound or MRI or CT scans; tumor markers in the blood such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), carbohydrate antigen 19-9 or carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) can also help with hepatic cancer detection. Treatments include surgical resection, liver transplantation, systemic chemotherapies (uncommonly used) and percutaneous ablation. The liver is generally not tolerant to radiotherapy.

Using human xenograft models of hepatic cancer, as previously mentioned, is a powerful research tool, and there are many models of liver cancer to choose from. There are links above to some of the most common tissue culture models that Altogen Labs has available, summarized in the table below. Models are often selected based on morphology, genetics, histology, early vs. late stage phenotype, invasive/aggressive properties, and abnormal protein expressions (usually relating to cell cycle, apoptosis, growth and angiogenesis). The goal of xenografts and murine models is to mirror human pathology and disease as closely as possible so that accurate insights into cellular events are achieved. This aspect is particularly critical with preclinical drug testing for accurately evaluating compound efficacy.

Cell Line Characteristics
Hep3b ·    Epithelial human hepatocellular carcinoma·    Hepatitis B virus integrated into genome

·    Subtetraploid karyotype

·    Expresses alpha fentoprotein, hepatitis B surface antigen, albumin, transferrin, haptoglobin, plasminogen, retinol binding protein, beta lipoprotein

HepG2 ·    Well differentiated epithelial-like hepatocellular carcinoma·    Expresses both insulin as well as insulin-like growth factor II (IGF II)

·    Secretes albumin, transferrin, fibrinogen and plasminogen among other acute-phase proteins

·    Not demonstrated to be tumorigenic in immunosuppressed murine models

·    Used in liver failure studies of bioartificial devices

SK-HEP1 ·    Epithelial-like human hepatic adenocarcinoma derived from ascitic fluid·    Endothelial origin

·    Hypotriploid karyotype

·    Tubular formation morphology; cells have fenestrae without diaphragms

SMMC-7721 ·    Human hepatocellular carcinoma·    Expresses EGFR and VEGFR
H22 ·    Hepatocellular mouse carcinoma·    Has been used to study sorafenib, celecoxib and immunotherapy among other treatments
Hepa1-6 ·    Murine epithelial hepatoma derived from a C57L/J mouse BW7756 tumor that arose spontaneously·    Hypotetraploid karyotype

·    Has been tested with focal radiation, checkpoint inhibitors, cytokine gene therapy of IRF-1, and sorafenib

·    Is suggested to be an immunologically responsive tumor model

·    Secretes albumin, α-fetoprotein, amylase and α 1-antitrypin

Huh7 ·    Well differentiated epithelial-like hepatocellular carcinoma taken from a primary tumor·    Point mutation in p53

·    Has been used to study FGFR4, kinase inhibitors, sorafenib, silibinin and anti-EGFRvIII

Cell Line Characteristics
SNU-398 ●        Human epithelial liver carcinoma

●        Contains Hepatitis B virus

●        Aneuploid karyotype

●        Trabecular histology

●        Original patient tumor was single nodular w/ perinodular extensions

Altogen Labs is one of the leading biology contract research organization (CRO) based in Austin, Texas. Altogen Labs provides years of expert research in xenograft experiments taking advantage of the comprehensive expertise the company has developed in the use of human tumor xenografts for research and clinical purposes. Altogen Labs offers a complete suite of laboratory services, including:

  • xenotransplantation study design
  • selection of appropriate cancer model/cell line
  • host animal selection
  • subcutaneous or orthotopic xenografting
  • daily observation of experimental subjects
  • post-experiment analysis, including serum collection and histology

Mouse strains available at Altogen Labs:

Mouse type T cells B cells NK cells Coat Other Notes
CD1 No Yes Yes White/albino Outbred
B6 Yes Yes Yes White/albino Inbred
Balb/c No Yes Yes Nude, albino Inbred
Balb/SCID No No Yes White Inbred
NOD/SCID No No Impaired White Inbred
Nu/nu No Yes Yes Nude Outbred
CD57BL Yes Yes Yes Dark brown/black Inbred
CB17 Yes Yes Yes White Inbred
NSG No No No White Inbred
Swiss Nude No Yes Yes Nude Outbred

About the models


This model originates from a non-inbred Swiss stock of the 1920s from the Centre Anticancerux Romand (Lausanne, Switzerland). Outbred stocks are generally used for their genetic variability.


This strain of mouse arose from a spontaneous mutation in the C57BL/6 strain resulting in a coisogenic albino mutant. These mice have a mutant tyrosinase gene.


This strain of nude mouse was developed in the 1980s through many crosses and backcrosses and remains to be an inbred model. Balb/c mice do not have a thymus and therefore cannot produce T-cells and are considered immunodeficient. Balb/c mice are often used for their easy breeding and similar weights (low-variation) of males and females. They are also used for monoclonal antibody production.


This mouse model lacks functioning T and B cells but do have functioning NK cells which limits engraftment. These mice are sensitive to irradiation and have functioning macrophages, dendritic cells and complement activity. Some cancer cell lines show improved engraftment over nude models in Balb/SCID mice.


The homozygous SCID mutation results in impaired T cell and B cell lymphocyte development. The NOD characteristic results in impaired natural killer cell function. NOD/SCID mice also lack macrophage and dendritic cell activity as well as reduced complement activity. These mice have a non-obese diabetic and insulitis background and low cytokine production. NOD/SCID mice exhibit a 36-week median survival due to the development of thymic lymphomas, which limits their use to short-term experiments.


These mice originate from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Originally thought to be BALB/C congenic mice, once it was discovered that these mice were outbred they were determined to be of their own strain. These mice do not have a thymus, or T-cells, and are nude immunodeficient models.


This laboratory mouse strain was the 2nd mammalian species to ever have its genome published in entirety. They originate from the Bussey Institute for Research in Applied Biology in 1921. These mice are often selected for easy breeding and availability of congenic strains. These mice are particularly sensitive to odors, noise, pain, cold, alcohol and morphine addiction.


CB17 mice are of a congenic strain that carry the immunoglobulin heavy chain allele (Igh-1b) from a C57BL/Ka on a BALB/c background. They are an ideal control for the CB17/SCID immunodeficient mouse model


Also known as NOD scid gamma, these mice are deficient in NK, T and B cells as well as multiple cytokine pathways. They also have reduced dendritic cell function and defective macrophage activity and lack a complement system. They are one of the most immunodeficient models available and unlike NOD/SCID mice, NSG mice do not develop thymic lymphomas and can be used for long-term experiments.

Swiss Nude

These mice originate from the 1974 Gustave Roussy Institute (Villejuif, France) Swiss stock. They are T cell deficient, nude and albino.

All laboratory studies are performed by experienced personnel in a GLP-compliant and IACUC-regulated facility in Austin, Texas. Please contact us at, or call 512-433-6177 to discuss xenograft study details.