Object. Surgical treatment of gliomas is difficult because they are invasive. Invasion of essential cortex often limits or precludes surgical resection. A tumor model was developed in which the rodent whisker barrel cortex was used to examine how gliomas affect cortical function and structure.
Methods. Both DBT (mouse) and C6 (rat) glioma cell lines were grown in culture and labeled with the fluorescent marker Dil in vitro. Labeled tumor cells were then injected into the whisker barrel cortex of adult mice and rats. Neurological assessments were made daily and magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained. Animals were killed by perfusion 6 to 14 days after injection, and histological sections were prepared and studied.
Tumors were found in all 20 rats and 10 mice that had been injected with the C6 and DBT cell lines, respectively. The animal cells had been labeled with Dil in vitro, and all in vivo tumors proved to be Dil positive. The MR images revealed the tumor locations and serial MR images demonstrated tumor growth. Histological evaluation confirmed the location of the tumor and the disruption of barrel cortex architecture.
Conclusions. Both DBT and C6 glioma cell lines can be used to generate malignant glial tumors reproducibly in the whisker barrel cortex. Fluorescent labeling and cytochrome oxidase staining permit visualization of tumor growth patterns, which disrupt the barrel cortex by microscopic invasion and by gross tissue deformation. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrates the anatomical extension of these tumors in live rodents. Using this model for further studies on the effects of malignant glioma growth on functional cerebral cortex should advance our understanding of the neurological issues and management of patients with these tumors.