Use of Cell Lines/Tumors in Rodents

Cell lines and solid tumors present a major biological hazard to the animal facility. There are well know examples of rodent viruses being introduced into pathogen free colonies via tumors and/or cell lines. Pathogens such as mouse hepatitis virus (MVH), Mycoplasma pulmonis, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) are pathogens of most concern. While most of the agents that are potentially found in rodent cell lines are species specific, there are documented cases of zoonotic agents also being introduced via tumors, ex. Hantavirus and LCMV.

Cell Lines

The materials of most concern are those derived from rodents (rats, mice, hamsters) or passaged through them. Because the exact origin and propagation of human tumors/cell lines can be unknown or ambiguous, all cell lines (regardless of origin) must be tested prior to use in rodents here at MSSM. Until recently the most reliable test was the mouse antibody production (MAP) test. Samples of the suspect material were injected into mice of various ages. These animals were then evaluated for seroconversion to the rodent pathogens of interest. This generally took 6-8 weeks for completion. Recently, a new test, the IMPACT- PCR test has shown similar sensitivity and specificity to the traditional MAP test for most agents. This method requires small amounts of material and is usually completed within 2 weeks. This has rapidly become the test of choice. American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) is a common source of tumors and cell lines. ATCC does not test any cell lines or tumors for rodent pathogens. This is the responsibility of the end user.

Primary Human Tumors

For tumors that are taken directly from patients, it is often not possible to have enough cells available to perform IMPACT testing. Therefore, these materials can be placed into animals without the need for testing. It should be noted, however, that Blood Borne Pathogens precautions must be followed when working with these materials. In addition, they must be handled under biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) conditions and the animals must be housed in an animal biosafety level 2 (ABSL-2) room.

Additional Information

For information as to how to get a cell line/tumor IMPACT tested, contact Ying Dai at (212) 241-1696.