Development of an in Vitro Analogue of Initiated Mouse Epidermis to Study Tumor Promoters and Antipromoters

Henry Hennings, Victor A. Robinson, Delores M. Michael, George Pettit, Reinhard Jung, Stuart H. Yuspa

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38 Scopus citations


To facilitate the study of skin tumor promotion, a cell culture model system with characterisitics analogous to initiated mouse epidermis was established. Cells of the keratinocyte cell line 308, derived from adult mouse skin initiated with 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene, display the initiated phenotype, since papillomas are produced when the cells are grafted to the backs of athymic mice. Coculture of a small number of these initiated cells with confluent normal primary keratinocytes resulted in the inhibition of growth of colonies of 308 cells. Addition of fresh keratinocytes weekly was required to sustain the inhibition for 3-4 weeks. Inhibition of 308 cell colonies required culture medium with a calcium concentration of 1.2 dim; normal keratinocytes did not inhibit 308 cells in medium with 0.05 mM calcium. Growth of 308 cells was not inhibited by coculture with confluent fibroblasts or by 1.2 mM calcium medium conditioned by either keratinocytes or fibroblasts. During continuous exposure of the cocultures to tumor promoters, 308 cell colonies became apparent within 2-3 weeks. A limited number of promoters were tested in this model system and 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, 12-0-retinoylphorbol-13-acetate, mezerein, and benzoyl peroxide were all active. The number of colonies which developed during promoter exposure in cocultures showed a dose-response curve which differed from the dose-response curve for stimulation of growth of 308 colonies in the absence of normal keratinocytes. Simultaneous treatment with 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and known inhibitors of skin tumor promotion, such as retinoic acid, fluocinolone acetonide, and bryostatin 1, blocked colony formation of 308 cells in cocultures but not in cultures with only 308 cells. In this model system, the actions of promoters and inhibitors both appear to be mediated by normal keratinocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4794-4800
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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