Histological and molecular evaluation of patient-derived colorectal cancer explants

PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38422. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038422. Epub 2012 Jun 4.


Mouse models have been developed to investigate colorectal cancer etiology and evaluate new anti-cancer therapies. While genetically engineered and carcinogen-induced mouse models have provided important information with regard to the mechanisms underlying the oncogenic process, tumor xenograft models remain the standard for the evaluation of new chemotherapy and targeted drug treatments for clinical use. However, it remains unclear to what extent explanted colorectal tumor tissues retain inherent pathological features over time. In this study, we have generated a panel of 27 patient-derived colorectal cancer explants (PDCCEs) by direct transplantation of human colorectal cancer tissues into NOD-SCID mice. Using this panel, we performed a comparison of histology, gene expression and mutation status between PDCCEs and the original human tissues from which they were derived. Our findings demonstrate that PDCCEs maintain key histological features, basic gene expression patterns and KRAS/BRAF mutation status through multiple passages. Altogether, these findings suggest that PDCCEs maintain similarity to the patient tumor from which they are derived and may have the potential to serve as a reliable preclinical model that can be incorporated into future strategies to optimize individual therapy for patients with colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CDX2 Transcription Factor
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Oncogenes / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays*
  • ras Proteins / genetics


  • CDX2 Transcription Factor
  • CDX2 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins