Research Papers:

A simple selection-free method for detecting disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in murine bone marrow

Kenneth C. Valkenburg _, Sarah R. Amend, James E. Verdone, Emma E. van der Toom, James R. Hernandez, Michael A. Gorin and Kenneth J. Pienta

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:69794-69803. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12000

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Kenneth C. Valkenburg1, Sarah R. Amend1, James E. Verdone1, Emma E. van der Toom1, James R. Hernandez1, Michael A. Gorin1, Kenneth J. Pienta1,2,3,4

1The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute and Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

2Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

3Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

4Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

Correspondence to:

Michael A. Gorin, email: [email protected]

Kenneth C. Valkenburg, email: [email protected]

Keywords: disseminated tumor cells, mouse models, bone marrow, bone metastasis, cancer

Received: June 17, 2016     Accepted: September 01, 2016     Published: September 13, 2016


Bone metastasis is a lethal and incurable disease. It is the result of the dissemination of cancer cells to the bone marrow. Due to the difficulty in sampling and detection, few techniques exist to efficiently and consistently detect and quantify disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow of cancer patients. Because mouse models represent a crucial tool with which to study cancer metastasis, we developed a novel method for the simple selection-free detection and quantification of bone marrow DTCs in mice. We have used this protocol to detect human and murine DTCs in xenograft, syngeneic, and genetically engineered mouse models. We are able to detect and quantify bone marrow DTCs in mice that do not have overt bone metastasis. This protocol is amenable not only for detection and quantification purposes but also to study the expression of markers of numerous biological processes or tissue-specificity.

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