At diagnosis of colorectal cancer, approximately 25% of the patients have established colorectal liver metastasis. Optimal management of disseminated disease requires therapies targeting multiple stages in hepatic colorectal cancer metastasis development. To facilitate this, biologically accurate in vivo models are required. Early colonic cancer liver metastases development was studied using BDIX and Sprague–Dawley rat strains with human HT29 and rat DHDK12 colonic cancer cell lines. Different cancer cell–host combinations were used. Rat DHDK12 was previously chemically induced in the BDIX rat. Real-time intra-vital microscopy was employed to analyse the early development of liver metastases in four groups (n = 6 per group) (HT29–BDIX, DHDK12–BDIX, HT29–SD and DHDK12–SD). Data were compared using one-way anova with Bonferroni’s multiple comparison test. The total number of tumour cells visualized, adherent cells within the hepatic sinusoids, extravasated tumour cells and migration rates were significantly higher in the DHDK12–BDIX combination. Maximum number of visualized cells and maximum migration rate were also significantly higher in this group. No significant differences were observed in these experimental parameters among the other three groups or in the haemodynamic parameters among all groups. In conclusion, cancer cell line–host selection has a significant effect on early colonic cancer liver metastasis development
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