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Characterisation of Walker 256 breast carcinoma cells from two tumour cell banks as assessed using two models of secondary brain tumours

Kate M Lewis, Elizabeth Harford-Wright, Robert Vink and Mounir N Ghabriel*

Author Affiliations

Adelaide Centre for Neuroscience Research, School of Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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Cancer Cell International 2013, 13:5  doi:10.1186/1475-2867-13-5

Published: 1 February 2013



Metastatic brain tumours are a common end stage of breast cancer progression, with significant associated morbidity and high mortality. Walker 256 is a rat breast carcinoma cell line syngeneic to Wistar rats and commonly used to induce secondary brain tumours. Previously there has been the assumption that the same cancer cell line from different cell banks behave in a similar manner, although recent studies have suggested that cell lines may change their characteristics over time in vitro.


In this study internal carotid artery injection and direct cerebral inoculation models of secondary brain tumours were used to determine the tumorigenicity of Walker 256 cells obtained from two cell banks, the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), and the Cell Resource Centre for Medical Research at Tohoku University (CRCTU).


Tumour incidence and volume, plus immunoreactivity to albumin, IBA1 and GFAP, were used as indicators of tumorigenicity and tumour interaction with the host brain microenvironment. CRCTU Walker 256 cells showed greater incidence, larger tumour volume, pronounced blood–brain barrier disruption and prominent glial response when compared to ATCC cell line.


These findings indicate that immortalised cancer cell lines obtained from different cell banks may have diverse characteristics and behaviour in vivo.

Walker 256 cells; Brain metastases; Breast cancer; Animal models; Blood–brain barrier; Tumour banks; Glial reaction; Tumorigenicity