Patient-derived xenografts from non-small cell lung cancer brain metastases are valuable translational platforms for the development of personalized targeted therapy

Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Mar 1;21(5):1172-82. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-1589. Epub 2014 Dec 30.


Purpose: The increasing prevalence of distant metastases from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) indicates an urgent need for novel therapeutic modalities. Brain metastasis is particularly common in NSCLC, with severe adverse effects on clinical prognosis. Although the molecular heterogeneity of NSCLC and availability of various targeted agents suggest personalized therapeutic approaches for such brain metastases, further development of appropriate preclinical models is needed to validate the strategies.

Experimental design: We established patient-derived xenografts (PDX) using NSCLC brain metastasis surgical samples and elucidated their possible preclinical and clinical implications for personalized treatment.

Results: NSCLC brain metastases (n = 34) showed a significantly higher successful PDX establishment rate than primary specimens (n = 64; 74% vs. 23%). PDXs derived from NSCLC brain metastases recapitulated the pathologic, genetic, and functional properties of corresponding parental tumors. Furthermore, tumor spheres established in vitro from the xenografts under serum-free conditions maintained their in vivo brain metastatic potential. Differential phenotypic and molecular responses to 20 targeted agents could subsequently be screened in vitro using these NSCLC PDXs derived from brain metastases. Although PDX establishment from primary NSCLCs was significantly influenced by histologic subtype, clinical aggressiveness, and genetic alteration status, the brain metastases exhibited consistently adequate in vivo tumor take rate and in vitro tumor sphere formation capacity, regardless of clinical and molecular conditions.

Conclusions: Therefore, PDXs from NSCLC brain metastases may better represent the heterogeneous advanced NSCLC population and could be utilized as preclinical models to meet unmet clinical needs such as drug screening for personalized treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)