Uncovering tumor intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate hepatocellular carcinoma growth using patient derived xenograft assays
ABSTRACT: Several major factors limit our understanding of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). First, human HCCs are infrequently biopsied for diagnosis and thus are not often biologically interrogated. Second, HCC initiation and progression are strongly influenced by the cirrhotic microenvironment, and the exact contributions of intrinsic and extrinsic tumor factors are unclear. A powerful approach to examine the personalized biology of liver cancers and the influence of host tissues is with patient derived xenograft (PDX) models. In Asia, HCCs from hepatitis B virus patients have been efficiently converted into PDXs, but few parallel efforts from the west have been reported. In a large-scale analysis, we implanted 93 HCCs and 8 cholangiocarcinomas (CCAs) to systematically analyze host factors and to define an optimized platform for PDX development from both surgical and biopsy samples. NSG mice that had undergone partial hepatectomy (PHx) represented the best combination of engraftability, growth, and passageability, but overall rates were low and indicative of a unique intrinsic biology for HCCs in the US. PDX models preserved the histology and genetic features of parental tumors, and ultimately, 9 new models were usable for pre-clinical studies. Intriguingly, HCC PDXs were differentially sensitive to regorafenib and sorafenib and CCA PDXs were also highly sensitive to regorafenib. PDX models functionalize early and advanced stage HCCs and revealed unique biological features of liver cancers from the US.
Project description:While patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have been successfully generated from resected tissues, no reliable methods have been reported for the generation of PDXs from patients who are not candidates for resection and represent the vast majority of patients with HCC. Here we compare two methods for the creation of PDXs from HCC biopsies and find that implantation of whole biopsy samples without the addition of basement membrane matrix favors the formation of PDX tumors that resemble Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-driven B-cell lymphomas rather than HCC tumors. In contrast, implantation with Matrigel supports growth of HCC cells and leads to a high rate of HCC tumor formation from these biopsies. We validate the resulting PDXs, confirm their fidelity to the patients' disease and conclude that minimally invasive percutaneous liver biopsies can be used with relatively high efficiency to generate PDXs of HCC.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Treatment options for patients with advanced-stage disease are limited. A major obstacle in drug development is the lack of an in vivo model that accurately reflects the broad spectrum of human HCC. Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumor mouse models could overcome the limitations of cancer cell lines. PDX tumors maintain the genetic and histologic heterogeneity of the originating tumors and are used for preclinical drug development in various cancers. Controversy exists about their genetic and molecular stability through serial passaging in mice. We aimed to establish PDX models from human HCC biopsies and to characterize their histologic and molecular stability during serial passaging. A total of 54 human HCC needle biopsies that were derived from patients with various underlying liver diseases and tumor stages were transplanted subcutaneously into immunodeficient, nonobese, diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency gamma-c mice; 11 successfully engrafted. All successfully transplanted HCCs were Edmondson grade III or IV. HCC PDX tumors retained the histopathologic, transcriptomic, and genomic characteristics of the original HCC biopsies over 6 generations of retransplantation. These characteristics included Edmondson grade, expression of tumor markers, tumor gene signature, tumor-associated mutations, and copy number alterations. Conclusion: PDX mouse models can be established from undifferentiated HCCs, with an overall success rate of approximately 20%. The transplanted tumors represent the entire spectrum of the molecular landscape of HCCs and preserve the characteristics of the originating tumors through serial passaging. HCC PDX models are a promising tool for preclinical personalized drug development.
Project description:Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models are effective preclinical cancer models that reproduce the tumor microenvironment of the human body. The methods have been widely used for drug screening, biomarker development, co-clinical trials, and personalized medicine. However, the low success rate and the long tumorigenesis period have largely limited their usage. In the present studies, we compared the PDX establishment between hepatocellular cancer (HCC) and metastatic liver cancer (MLC), and identified the key factors affecting the transplantation rate of PDXs. Surgically resected tumor specimens obtained from patients were subcutaneously inoculated into immunodeficient mice to construct PDX models. The overall transplantation rate was 38.5% (20/52), with the HCC group (28.1%, 9/32) being lower than MLC group (56.2%, 9/16). In addition, HCC group took significantly longer latency period than MLC group to construct PDX models. Hematoxylin and eosin staining results showed that the histopathology of all generations in PDX models was similar to the original tumor in all three types of cancer. The transplantation rate of PDX models in HCC patients was significantly associated with blood type (P=0.001), TNM stage (P=0.023), lymph node metastasis (P=0.042) and peripheral blood CA19-9 level (P=0.049), while the transplantation rate of PDX models in MLC patients was significantly associated with tumor size (P=0.034). This study demonstrates that PDX models can effectively reproduce the histological patterns of human tumors. The transplantation rate depends on the type of original tumor. Furthermore, it shows that the invasiveness of the original liver cancer affects the possibility of its growth in immunodeficient mice.
Project description:The lack of a general clinic-relevant model for human cancer is a major impediment to the acceleration of novel therapeutic approaches for clinical use. We propose to establish and characterize primary human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) xenografts that can be used to evaluate the cytotoxicity of adoptive chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and accelerate the clinical translation of CAR T cells used in HCC.Primary HCCs were used to establish the xenografts. The morphology, immunological markers, and gene expression characteristics of xenografts were detected and compared to those of the corresponding primary tumors. CAR T cells were adoptively transplanted into patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of HCC. The cytotoxicity of CAR T cells in vivo was evaluated.PDX1, PDX2, and PDX3 were established using primary tumors from three individual HCC patients. All three PDXs maintained original tumor characteristics in their morphology, immunological markers, and gene expression. Tumors in PDX1 grew relatively slower than that in PDX2 and PDX3. Glypican 3 (GPC3)-CAR T cells efficiently suppressed tumor growth in PDX3 and impressively eradicated tumor cells from PDX1 and PDX2, in which GPC3 proteins were highly expressed.GPC3-CAR T cells were capable of effectively eliminating tumors in PDX model of HCC. Therefore, GPC3-CAR T cell therapy is a promising candidate for HCC treatment.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Engraftment of primary pancreas ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) in mice to generate patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models is a promising platform for biological and therapeutic studies in this disease. However, these models are still incompletely characterized. Here, we measured the impact of the murine tumor environment on the gene expression of the engrafted human tumoral cells. METHODS: We have analyzed gene expression profiles from 35 new PDX models and compared them with previously published microarray data of 18 PDX models, 53 primary tumors and 41 cell lines from PDAC. The results obtained in the PDAC system were further compared with public available microarray data from 42 PDX models, 108 primary tumors and 32 cell lines from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We developed a robust analysis protocol to explore the gene expression space. In addition, we completed the analysis with a functional characterization of PDX models, including if changes were caused by murine environment or by serial passing. RESULTS: Our results showed that PDX models derived from PDAC, or HCC, were clearly different to the cell lines derived from the same cancer tissues. Indeed, PDAC- and HCC-derived cell lines are indistinguishable from each other based on their gene expression profiles. In contrast, the transcriptomes of PDAC and HCC PDX models can be separated into two different groups that share some partial similarity with their corresponding original primary tumors. Our results point to the lack of human stromal involvement in PDXs as a major factor contributing to their differences from the original primary tumors. The main functional differences between pancreatic PDX models and human PDAC are the lower expression of genes involved in pathways related to extracellular matrix and hemostasis and the up- regulation of cell cycle genes. Importantly, most of these differences are detected in the first passages after the tumor engraftment. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that PDX models of PDAC and HCC retain, to some extent, a gene expression memory of the original primary tumors, while this pattern is not detected in conventional cancer cell lines. Expression changes in PDXs are mainly related to pathways reflecting the lack of human infiltrating cells and the adaptation to a new environment. We also provide evidence of the stability of gene expression patterns over subsequent passages, indicating early phases of the adaptation process.
Project description:Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can cause liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, with final progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in some cases. Various factors have been suggested to be involved in the development of NASH. Considering the many possible contributing factors, we postulated that mechanisms of progression from NASH to HCC could differ depending on the risk factors. In the present study, we applied two mouse models of NASH?HCC and performed histopathological and proteome analyses of mouse liver tumors. Furthermore, to compare the mechanisms of NASH?HCC progression in mice and humans, we investigated HCCs in humans with a background of metabolic syndrome and NASH, as well as HCCs associated with hepatitis virus infection by immunohistochemistry. It was demonstrated that upstream regulators associated with the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway were altered in liver tumors of mice with metabolic syndrome characteristics (TSOD mice) using proteome analysis. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that mTOR was characteristically phosphorylated in liver tumors of TSOD mice and HCCs from metabolic syndrome cases in humans. These results indicated that the mTOR pathway is characteristically activated in liver tumors with metabolic syndrome and NASH, unlike liver tumors with other etiologies.
Project description:To characterize patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) for functional studies, we made whole-genome comparisons with originating breast cancers representative of the major intrinsic subtypes. Structural and copy number aberrations were found to be retained with high fidelity. However, at the single-nucleotide level, variable numbers of PDX-specific somatic events were documented, although they were only rarely functionally significant. Variant allele frequencies were often preserved in the PDXs, demonstrating that clonal representation can be transplantable. Estrogen-receptor-positive PDXs were associated with ESR1 ligand-binding-domain mutations, gene amplification, or an ESR1/YAP1 translocation. These events produced different endocrine-therapy-response phenotypes in human, cell line, and PDX endocrine-response studies. Hence, deeply sequenced PDX models are an important resource for the search for genome-forward treatment options and capture endocrine-drug-resistance etiologies that are not observed in standard cell lines. The originating tumor genome provides a benchmark for assessing genetic drift and clonal representation after transplantation.
Project description:Background: Liver is the most common metastatic site in advanced colorectal cancer. Most patients with colorectal cancer liver metastasis (CRLM) do not benefit from current treatment. Patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) with defined molecular signatures are attractive models for preclinical studies. Methods: Successfully established PDXs were evaluated to elucidate their fidelity of patients' biologic characteristics (pathologic, genetic and protein properties, together with chemosensitivity). The genomic variations of PDXs were analyzed by next-generation sequencing to explore the underlying molecular mechanism of metastasis and potential therapeutic targets. Results: CRLM (N=73) showed a significantly higher successful PDX establishment rate than primary specimens (N=26; 76.7% vs. 57.7%). CRLM PDXs recapitulated the pathologic, genetic and protein properties of parental tumors, as well as chemosensitivity. Frequent altered genes in PDXs showed high consistency compared to patients' genomic alterations and were enriched in MAPK, ErbB, cell cycle, focal adhesion pathways for CRLM PDXs, whereas primary tumor-derived PDXs only exhibited genomic variations involving ErbB and cell cycle. The genetic alterations showed high concordance between paired PDXs from primary and metastatic tissues, except for recurrent gene mutations (ARID1A, CDK8, ETV1, STAT5B and WNK3) and common copy number gains in chromosomes 20q (e.g., SRC/AURKA). Several potential drug targets such as KRAS, HER2, and FGFR2 were validated using corresponding inhibitors. Additionally, PDX models could also be used in screening efficient regimens for patients with no druggable alterations. Conclusion: This study has successfully established and validated a large panel of molecularly annotated platforms from patients with CRLM for preclinical studies.
Project description:Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, ascorbate, VC) is a potential chemotherapeutic agent for cancer patients. However, the anti-tumor effects of pharmacologic VC on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) remain to be fully elucidated. Panels of human HCC cell lines as well as HCC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models were employed to investigate the anti-tumor effects of pharmacologic VC. The use of VC and the risk of HCC recurrence were examined retrospectively in 613 HCC patients who received curative liver resection as their initial treatment. In vitro and in vivo experiments further demonstrated that clinically achievable concentrations of VC induced cell death in liver cancer cells and the response to VC was correlated with sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter 2 (SVCT-2) expressions. Mechanistically, VC uptake via SVCT-2 increased intracellular ROS, and subsequently caused DNA damage and ATP depletion, leading to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Most importantly, SVCT-2 was highly expressed in liver CSCs, which promoted their self-renewal and rendered them more sensitive to VC. In HCC cell lines xenograft models, as well as in PDX models, VC dramatically impaired tumor growth and eradicated liver CSCs. Finally, retrospective cohort study showed that intravenous VC use was linked to improved disease-free survival (DFS) in HCC patients (adjusted HR?=?0.622, 95% CI 0.487 to 0.795, p?<?0.001). Our data highlight that pharmacologic VC can effectively kill liver cancer cells and preferentially eradicate liver CSCs, which provide further evidence supporting VC as a novel therapeutic strategy for HCC treatment.