Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumors are powerful tools to study cancer biology. However, the ability of PDX tumors to model the biological and histological diversity of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is not well known. In this study, we subcutaneously implanted 133 primary and metastatic PDAC tumors into immunodeficient mice. Fifty-seven tumors were successfully engrafted and even after extensive passaging, the histology of poorly-, moderately-, and well-differentiated tumors was maintained in the PDX models. Moreover, the fibroblast and collagen contents in the stroma of patient tumors were recapitulated in the corresponding PDX models. Analysis of the clinicopathological features of patients revealed xenograft tumor engraftment was associated with lymphovascular invasion (P = 0.001) and worse recurrence-free (median, 7 vs. 16 months, log-rank P = 0.047) and overall survival (median, 13 vs. 21 months, log-rank P = 0.038). Among successful engraftments, median time of growth required for reimplantation into new mice was 151 days. Reflective of the inherent biological diversity between PDX tumors with rapid (<151 days) and slow growth, differences in their growth were maintained during extensive passaging. Rapid growth was additionally associated with lymph node metastasis (P = 0.022). The association of lymphovascular invasion and lymph node metastasis with PDX formation and rapid growth may reflect an underlying biological mechanism that allows these tumors to adapt and grow in a new environment. While the ability of PDX tumors to mimic the cellular and non-cellular features of the parental tumor stroma provides a valuable model to study the interaction of PDAC cells with the tumor microenvironment, the association of successful engraftment with adverse clinicopathological features suggests PDX models over represent more aggressive forms of this disease.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)