Lymph node metastasis occurs via the migration of cancer cells through the lymphatic system. Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is a common diagnostic strategy. SLNs have been studied using healthy rodents and large animals without metastasis. Here we used immunodeficient swine to establish a model of lymph node metastasis. We used RAG2-knockout immunodeficient swine. A431 human epithelial carcinoma cells expressing green fluorescent protein were injected subcutaneously into the posterior sides of the auricle, forelimb and hindlimb of knockout swine. Indigo carmine dye was injected subcutaneously 8 weeks after tumour cell transplantation. SLNs were extracted, observed using a stereoscopic fluorescence microscope and analysed histologically using haematoxylin and eosin staining, and immunohistochemistry. Lymphoid follicles were found in wild-type swine, and a few aggregated lymphocytes and immature lymphoid follicles were observed in knockout swine. Fluorescence in the lymph nodes indicated metastasis of tumour cells to the lymph nodes. Tumour cells replaced lymph node architectures, showed high-grade nuclear atypia and formed irregular tumour nests. Our model may be useful for the preclinical validation of diagnostic methods and minimally invasive treatment of metastatic cancer.
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