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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 25 (2003), Issue 2, Pages 95-102

In Vitro Model for Studying Malignancy Associated Changes

Xiao Rong Sun,1,2 Yonghong Zheng,1 Calum MacAulay,1 Stephen Lam,1 Alexei Doudkine,1 and Branko Palcic1

1Cancer Imaging Department, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, Canada
2China–Canada Early Cancer Detection Research Center, Tong Ji Medical University, Wuhan, PR, China

Received 1 February 2001; Accepted 1 November 2002

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Malignancy associated changes (MAC) can be defined as subtle morphological and physiologic changes that are found in ostensibly normal cells of patients harboring malignant disease. It has been postulated that MAC have a potential to become a useful tool in detection, diagnosis and prognosis of malignant diseases. An in vitro cell culture model system was designed to study interactions between non‐small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the normal bronchial epithelium of the human respiratory tract in vivo to see if the MAC‐like phenomenon can be detected in such a system. In this study we examined changes in nuclear features of normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) when they were co‐cultured with cells derived from a lung cancer cell line NCI‐H460. Using discriminant function analysis, nuclear features were determined which allow maximal discrimination between normal cells incubated with or without cancerous cells. Our results demonstrate that MAC appear to be specific to changes induced by malignancy, and that these changes differ from those induced by growth factors in the serum. This study provides evidence in support to the hypothesis that MAC are induced by a soluble factor(s) released by malignant cells. Colour figure can be viewed on‐2/sun.htm.