Open Access Research

In vitro and in vivo properties of CD133 expressing cells from human lung cancer cell lines

Ping Wang1256, Zhenhe Suo35, Mengyu Wang1, Hanne K Høifødt4, Øystein Fodstad45, Gustav Gaudernack25 and Gunnar Kvalheim15*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cellular Therapy, Oslo University Hospital, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo, Norway

2 Department of Immunology, Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Pathology, Oslo University Hospital, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo, Norway

4 Department of Tumor Biology, Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, Radiumhospitalet, Oslo, Norway

5 Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

6 Department of Hematology, Henan Tumor Hospital, Zhengzhou, P. R. China

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Experimental Hematology & Oncology 2013, 2:16  doi:10.1186/2162-3619-2-16

Published: 6 June 2013



Tumor development is recently hypothesized to depend on a rare cell population with stem cell properties, such cells are called cancer stem cells (CSCs) or tumor-initiating cells (TICs). From various cancer tissues or cancer cell lines, CD133 expressing cells were found to define a unique CSC/TIC phenotype. To study whether that also could be the case in lung cancer, we examined different lung cancer cell lines for CD133 expression.


Among the 4 cell lines studied, only the cell line LC-42 expressed CD133. Therefore, LC-42 was further characterized and studied with special emphasis on identifying the presence of CD133+ CSCs/TICs. FACS sorted CD133high and CD133dim subpopulations from LC-42 showed no differences in soft agar colony-forming capacity and spheres-forming capacity in serum-free cultures. LC-42 cells contained Side Population (SP), and only SP cells were able to form spheres. Furthermore, Nanog expression was significantly higher in SP than in non-SP. However, no difference was observed of CD133 expression in SP and non-SP. When CD133high and CD133dim cells were serially xeno-transplanted in NOD/SCID mice, both formed tumours similar to their parental LC-42 cells. There were no expression differences for NANOG, OCT4 and SOX2 examined immunohistochemically in the xenografts from both cell fractions.


Our data do not show a difference in tumorigenic potential of CD133high and CD133dim cells with respect to any of the parameters analyzed in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that CD133 expression is not restricted to cancer-initiating cells in the human lung cancer cell line LC-42.

Cancer stem cells; Lung cancer cell lines; CD133; CD44; Side population