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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Detection of low numbers of neuroblastoma cells in vitro.

Neuroblastoma is a tumour derived from the sympathoadrenal progenitors of the neural crest. It is one of the most malignant solid tumours in childhood with an annual incidence of 9.4 per 10(6) children under 15 years of age. Recent studies suggest that immunocytological detection of neuroblastoma cells in bone marrow and circulating neuroblasts during treatment may predict clinical outcome and correlate with tumour relapse. The present methods of diagnosing metastasis in neuroblastoma include histological, biochemical and immunohistological analysis. Morphological distinction between tumour cells and primitive lymphoblasts in bone marrow is often difficult, and these methods may also not always be sensitive enough for early detection of the residual and minimally circulating tumor cells. A sensitive assay for detection of such residual cells using two tissue-specific markers, NFM and SYN, by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is reported here. Analysis of the specificity of this assay in three neuroblastoma cell lines, namely IMR 32, SK-N-SH and SY5Y showed positive expression while control peripheral blood mononuclear cells (HL 60) were negative. In reconstituted cell spiking tests, this method has the ability to detect 1-10(3) neuroblastoma cell in 10(7) normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), as shown by serial dilution and limiting dilution. The NFM marker was found to be a more sensitive marker. The specificity and sensitivity of this technique makes it suitable for future application in detection of minimally disseminated tumour cells in neuroblastoma patients.[1]


  1. Detection of low numbers of neuroblastoma cells in vitro. Lai, P.S., Chee, S., Chiu, L.L., Sano, K. Ann. Acad. Med. Singap. (1997) [Pubmed]
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