Response and determinants of sensitivity to paclitaxel in human non-small cell lung cancer tumors heterotransplanted in nude mice

Roman Perez-Soler, Bonnie Kemp, Qing Ping Wu, Li Mao, Jorge Gomez, Anne Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, Herman Yee, Jin Soo Lee, Jaishree Jagirdar, Yi He Ling

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The lack of tumor models that can reliably predict for response to anticancer agents remains a major deficiency in the field of experimental cancer therapy. Although heterotransplants of certain human solid tumors can be successfully grown in nude mice, they have never been appropriately explored for prediction of in vivo chemosensitivity to anticancer agents. We determined the tumor response rate and studied the influence of several biological and molecular tumor parameters on the in vivo sensitivity to paclitaxel in a series of heterotransplanted human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. One hundred consecutive resected NSCLC tumors were heterotransplanted s.c. in nude mice. The in vivo sensitivity to i.v. paclitaxel (60 mg/kg every 3 weeks) was studied in 34 successfully grown heterotransplants. Treatment started when the tumors reached a size of 5 mm in diameter, and strict standard clinical criteria (>50% shrinkage in tumor weight or cross-sectional surface) were used to define tumor response. Baseline multidrug resistance protein (MRP), Her-2/neu, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression, and pre- and posttherapy bax and bcl-2 expression were determined by Western blot analysis. p53 status was determined by sequencing. The overall take rate was 46% (95% confidence interval, 36-56%) and was significantly higher (P < 0.05) for squamous carcinoma tumors (75%) than for adenocarcinoma tumors (30%) and bronchoalveolar tumors (23%). The heterotransplants were morphologically very similar to the original tumors. The response rate to paclitaxel was 21% (95% confidence interval, 9-38%). Baseline tumor parameters associated with response were no Her-2/neu expression (none of the responding tumors expressed Her-2/neu versus 48% of the nonresponding tumors, P = 0.05) and baseline bcl-2 expression (all responding tumors expressed bcl-2 versus only 43% of the nonresponding tumors, P = 0.02). There was a trend toward a higher response rate in bax-positive tumors, and MRP- and EGFR-negative tumors, but it was not statistically significant. The response was independent of baseline p53 status and baseline mitotic index. Responding tumors had a higher bax/bcl-2 ratio 24 h after therapy, but the difference was only marginally significant (2.8 for responding tumors versus 1.1 for nonresponding tumors, P = 0.07). The extent of mitotic arrest at 24 h after therapy was not associated with response. Human NSCLC heterotransplants are morphologically identical to the original tumors and have a response rate to paclitaxel that is equivalent to that reported in Phase II studies in patients with advanced NSCLC treated with single-agent paclitaxel. NSCLC heterotransplants deserve to be explored to evaluate new agents for lung cancer and to predict clinical response on an individual basis in selected groups of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4932-4938
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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