Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Growth of primary T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomata in SCID-hu mice: requirement for a human lymphoid microenvironment

  1. EK Waller,
  2. OW Kamel,
  3. ML Cleary,
  4. AS Majumdar,
  5. MR Schick,
  6. M Lieberman, and
  7. IL Weissman
  1. Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, CA 94305–5468.


We reasoned that the SCID-hu mouse could provide an appropriate lymphoid or stromal microenvironment to support the growth of primary human lymphoma. Heterotransplantation of nine cases of primary T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) into untreated SCID mice and SCID mice reconstituted with human fetal thymus, spleen, and liver (SCID-hu) resulted in the development of lymphoid tumors in five (56%) cases. Two clonal T-cell NHL grew after a mean of 90 days after injection of primary lymphoma cell suspensions into the thymus xenografts in SCID-hu mice and failed to grow in a variety of sites in SCID mice, except for small tumors that developed after a long (157-day) latency period after intracranial injection of tumor cell suspensions into weanling SCID mice. Successful serial transplantation of NHL in SCID and SCID-hu mice required the presence of a human lymphoid or tumor microenvironment, and was enhanced by pretreating the SCID mice with 175 rad radiation and antiasialo antisera. Analysis of the primary and transplanted T- cell tumors showed identical patterns of T-cell surface markers by flow cytometry and immunophenotyping of fixed tissue sections, and, in one case, reactivity with a specific monoclonal antibody to V beta 5.1. Genotyping of the transplanted tumors showed T-cell receptor gene rearrangements identical to those present in the primary tumors. In one case, the presence of Epstein-Barr virus-positive B cells in association with the primary tumor resulted in the growth of a lymphoblastoid B-cell neoplasm in addition to the malignant T-cell lymphoma after transplantation of tumor fragments to SCID mice. The data support the hypothesis that a human lymphoid microenvironment enhances the growth of T-cell NHL in SCID mice. The SCID-hu thymus graft provides an apparently unique microenvironment that supports the growth of primary T-cell NHL, and can be used to study the interaction between lymphoma cells, nontransformed lymphoid cells, and the surrounding stromal microenvironment in vivo.