The radiobiology of human acoustic schwannoma xenografts after stereotactic radiosurgery evaluated in the subrenal capsule of athymic mice

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✓ An experimental model with xenograft transplantation into the subrenal capsule of athymic (nude) mice was used to evaluate the early response of human acoustic schwannomas to stereotactic radiosurgery. After xenograft placement, 45 mice underwent radiosurgery with single doses of 10, 20, or 40 Gy using a 201-source 60Co gamma unit (4-mm collimator, single isocenter, 80% isodose line). The 45 radiosurgery-treated xenografts were compared with 15 untreated xenografts and 15 xenografts in mice that underwent “sham radiosurgery.” All five study groups were matched for the following pretreatment variables: patient of origin, animal weight, average xenograft diameter, and percentage of xenograft surface vascularity. Immediately prior to sacrifice of the mice all xenografts were evaluated in situ to determine the average tumor diameter, tumor volume, and percentage of surface vascularity. Mice were sacrificed 2 weeks, 1 month, or 3 months after radiosurgery. Blinded histological review was performed by an independent neuropathologist.

Tumor volume was reduced 33.6% after 2 weeks (p = 0.023) and 45% after 3 months (p = 0.018) in the 40-Gy radiosurgery group. Tumor volume was reduced by 46.2% after 1 month (p = 0.0002) and 35.2% after 3 months (p = 0.032) in the 20-Gy radiosurgery group. An average volume reduction of 16.4% was observed after 3 months (p = 0.17) in the 10-Gy radiosurgery group. At 3 months after surgery, tumor surface vascularity was reduced by an average of 19.7% (p = 0.043) in the 40-Gy radiosurgery group and 5.8% (p = 0.12) in the 20-Gy radiosurgery group and was unchanged in the 10-Gy radiosurgery group and both control groups. Histological examination demonstrated a higher incidence of hemosiderin deposits (p = 0.026) and vascular mural hyalinization (p = 0.032) in radiosurgery xenografts versus control.

The subrenal capsule xenograft in nude mice was an excellent model for studying the in vivo radiobiology of acoustic schwannomas after radiosurgery. Both cellular and vascular effects could be assessed serially in situ and the model was stable even 4 months after transplantation. Additional studies investigating radiobiology over periods better approximating the time course of clinical neuroimaging changes (6 to 12 months) are warranted.

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Address reprint requests to: Mark E. Linskey, M.D., Department of Neurological Surgery, Room F-948, Presbyterian-University Hospital, 230 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213.
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