Aim: To determine whether cellular apoptosis is a suitable phenotypic trait for pharmacogenomics studies by evaluating caspase 3/7-mediated activity in lymphoblastoid cell lines after treatment with six chemotherapeutic agents: 5'-deoxyfluorouridine, pemetrexed, cytarabine, paclitaxel, carboplatin, and cisplatin.
Materials and methods: Using monozygotic twin pair and sibling pair lymphoblastoid cell lines, we identified conditions for measurement of caspase 3/7 activity in lymphoblastoid cell lines. Genome-wide association studies were performed with over 2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and cisplatin-induced apoptosis in HapMap CEU cell lines (n=77).
Results: Although treatment with 5'-deoxyfluorouridine and pemetrexed for up to 24 h resulted in low levels of apoptosis or interindividual variation in caspase-dependent cell death; paclitaxel, cisplatin, carboplatin, and cytarabine treatment for 24 h resulted in 9.4-fold, 9.1-fold, 7.0-fold, and 6.0-fold increases in apoptosis relative to control, respectively. There was a weak correlation between caspase activity and cytotoxicity (r(2)=0.03-0.29) demonstrating that cytotoxicity and apoptosis are two distinct phenotypes that may produce independent genetic associations. Estimated heritability (h(2)) for apoptosis was 0.57 and 0.29 for cytarabine (5 and 40 μmol/l, respectively), 0.22 for paclitaxel (12.5 nmol/l), and 0.34 for cisplatin (5 μmol/l). In the genome-wide association study using the HapMap CEU panel, we identified a significant enrichment of cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity SNPs within the significant cisplatin-induced apoptosis SNPs and an enrichment of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). Among these eQTLs, we identified several eQTLs with known function related to apoptosis and/or cytotoxicity.
Conclusion: Our study identifies apoptosis as a phenotype for pharmacogenomic studies in lymphoblastoid cell lines after treatment with paclitaxel, cisplatin, carboplatin, and cytarabine that may have utility for discovering biomarkers to predict response to certain chemotherapeutics.