Orthotopic Tumor Model Studies

Orthotopic models involve the seeding of human tumor cell lines into animal models. This strategy allows us to assess tumor development in a relevant environment and evaluate efficacy in a preclinical tumor model that mimics the disease process in humans. With orthotopic models, we can closely monitor and accurately quantify primary tumor growth, metastatic activity, and response to therapy scenarios. Charles River offers orthotopic models across a full range of tumor histotypes to provide the most disease-relevant tumor environment in which to test your drug.

In orthotopic models, tumors are implanted into the equivalent organ from which the cancer originated to mimic human disease.

Schematic of Orthotopic Tumor Model

We can evaluate disease progression through a variety of methods, including clinical signs, survival study design, and our imaging platform that has both in vivo and ex vivo capabilities:

  • High-throughput or high resolution imaging
  • Real-time in-life fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging (IVIS)
  • 3D optical tomographic reconstructions for both bioluminescence and fluorescence
  • µCT X-ray for anatomical reference of signal

With human disease-specific tumor microenvironments and in-life imaging, Charles River’s orthotopic models are ideal for elucidating mode of action, monitoring patient-relevant responses and targeting metastatic mechanisms.


Translational imaging findings in a pediatric patient-derived orthotopic xenograft brain tumor model

Brain scans from scientific poster translational imaging findings in a pediatric patient-derived orthotopic xenograft brain tumor model.

Download our poster for a study of improved tumor progression tracking in orthotopic models with the use of alternate imaging modalities like MRI, fUS and PET.

Download the Poster


Charles River models include the following:

  • Renal Sub-Capsule Orthotopic Model of Cancer
    The renal orthotopic tumor model was developed for the efficacy evaluation of novel anticancer compounds using a tumor growth delay model that mimics the disease process in humans. Cell lines used in this tumor model include 786-O.
  • Intracranial Orthotopic Model
    Intracranial injection of tumor cells, such as U87MG human glioma cells, mimics clinical responses to tumor growth. Test agent effects are evaluated based on clinical observations and sample analyses.
  • Intrasplenic Hepatic Colonization Model
    Orthotopic seeding of human tumor cell lines, such as HT29 and HT29-luc2, allows assessment of tumor development in a hepatic environment and provides efficacy evaluation in a preclinical tumor model mimicking the disease process in humans. This allows for a more representative picture of tumor growth and response to therapy scenario to be realized.
  • Breast Tumor Models
    BT474, MCF-7, MDA-MB231, EMT-6, 4T1-luc2, or MX-1 cancer lines can be injected directly into the mammary fat pad of the mouse in this orthotopic tumor model of cancer.
  • Systemic Leukemia/Lymphoma Model
    In this orthotopic tumor model, Raji-B, MV4-11, Granta-519 or Ramos tumor cells are intravenously injected into the tail vein. Clinical signs associated with progression of tumor include impairment of hind limb function, ocular proptosis and weight loss.
  • Skin Cancer Orthotopic Models
    Cell lines such as B16F10 are intravenously implanted into the animal model for analysis of skin cancers.
  • Lung Cancer Models
    Lung cancer cell lines such as A549, LL-luc are directly implanted into the lung tissue.
  • Pancreatic Models
    Pancreatic tumor cell lines such as MiaPaCa-2, Pan02 are implanted into the mouse pancreas.
  • Prostate Orthotopic Models
    Prostate cancer cell lines such as PC3, LNCAP are implanted into the prostate tissue of the mouse model.
  • Ovarian Cancer Models
    Ovarian cancer cell lines such as A2780.luc are implanted into the mouse models.

Validation Data

Intracranial U87MG orthotopic tumor model with ex vivo intracranial imaging at day 65. Luminescence is quantified to measure tumor progression and effect of test compound.

Intracranial U87MG tumor model, with ex vivo intracranial imaging at day 65.

Combining our range of tumor models with quantifiable imaging data creates a truly translational platform in which to test your compounds.

Which model is right for you?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Orthotopic Models

  • What are orthotopic models?

    Orthotopic models involve implantation of tumor cell lines or patient-derived cell xenografts into animal tumor models into the organ or tissue which matches the tumor histotype. This creates a more disease-relevant environment for the assessment of tumor growth, which can be analyzed by optical imaging.

  • How can I use imaging and orthotopic models to increase predictive and translational value?

    Many tumor models are subcutaneous implants; however, these are less representative of human tumors as they aren’t located in a relevant location or tumor microenvironment (TME). Implanted in the organ that matches the tumor histotype, orthotopic models therefore have a more relevant TME. Using imaging to track tumor growth in a more relevant context improves translation.

  • What are the advantages of orthoptic models?

    Orthotopic models offer an organ- or tissue-specific tumor environment. When combining this disease-relevant environment with optical imaging, we can easily track and quantify tumor progression and metastasis in a way that is truly translational to the human disease state. Moreover, orthotopic models are cost-efficient, offering more rapid and predictable tumor growth than genetically engineered models.