A novel human ex vivo model for the analysis of molecular events during lung cancer chemotherapy

Dagmar S. Lang*, Daniel Droemann, Holger Schultz, Detlev Branscheid, Christian Martin, Anne R. Ressmeyer, Peter Zabel, Ekkehard Vollmer, Torsten Goldmann

*Corresponding author for this work
23 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) causes most of cancer related deaths in humans and is characterized by poor prognosis regarding efficiency of chemotherapeutical treatment and long-term survival of the patients. The purpose of the present study was the development of a human ex vivo tissue culture model and the analysis of the effects of conventional chemotherapy, which then can serve as a tool to test new chemotherapeutical regimens in NSCLC.Methods: In a short-term tissue culture model designated STST (Short-Term Stimulation of Tissues) in combination with the novel *HOPE-fixation and paraffin embedding method we examined the responsiveness of 41 human NSCLC tissue specimens to the individual cytotoxic drugs carboplatin, vinorelbine or gemcitabine. Viability was analyzed by LIFE/DEAD assay, TUNEL-staining and colorimetric MTT assay. Expression of Ki-67 protein and of BrdU (bromodeoxyuridine) uptake as markers for proliferation and of cleaved (activated) effector caspase-3 as indicator of late phase apoptosis were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Transcription of caspase-3 was analyzed by RT-PCR. Flow cytometry was utilized to determine caspase-3 in human cancer cell lines.Results: Viability, proliferation and apoptosis of the tissues were moderately affected by cultivation. In human breast cancer, small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and human cell lines (CPC-N, HEK) proliferative capacity was clearly reduced by all 3 chemotherapeutic agents in a very similar manner. Cleavage of caspase-3 was induced in the chemo-sensitive types of cancer (breast cancer, SCLC). Drug-induced effects in human NSCLC tissues were less evident than in the chemo-sensitive tumors with more pronounced effects in adenocarcinomas as compared to squamous cell carcinomas.Conclusion: Although there was high heterogeneity among the individual tumor tissue responses as expected, we clearly demonstrate specific multiple drug-induced effects simultaneously. Thus, STST provides a useful human model to study numerous aspects of mechanisms underlying tumor responsiveness towards improved anticancer treatment. The results presented here shall serve as a base for multiple functional tests of novel chemotherapeutic approaches to NSCLC in the future.*Hepes - Glutamic acid buffer mediated Organic solvent Protection Effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalRespiratory Research
Publication statusPublished - 13.06.2007


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