Evaluating patient-derived colorectal cancer xenografts as preclinical models by comparison with patient clinical data

Cancer Res. 2015 Apr 15;75(8):1560-6. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-1590. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


Development of targeted therapeutics required translationally relevant preclinical models with well-characterized cancer genome alterations. Here, by studying 52 colorectal patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDX), we examined key molecular alterations of the IGF2-PI3K and ERBB-RAS pathways and response to cetuximab. PDX molecular data were compared with that published for patient colorectal tumors in The Cancer Genome Atlas. We demonstrated a significant pattern of mutual exclusivity of genomic abnormalities in the IGF2-PI3K and ERBB-RAS pathways. The genomic anomaly frequencies observed in microsatellite stable PDX reproduce those detected in nonhypermutated patient tumors. We found frequent IGF2 upregulation (16%), which was mutually exclusive with IRS2, PIK3CA, PTEN, and INPP4B alterations, supporting IGF2 as a potential drug target. In addition to maintaining the genomic and histologic diversity, correct preclinical models need to reproduce drug response observed in patients. Responses of PDXs to cetuximab recapitulate also clinical data in patients, with partial or complete response in 15% (8 of 52) of PDXs and response strictly restricted to KRAS wild-type models. The response rate reaches 53% (8 of 15) when KRAS, BRAF, and NRAS mutations are concomitantly excluded, proving a functional cross-validation of predictive biomarkers obtained retrospectively in patients. Collectively, these results show that, because of their clinical relevance, colorectal PDXs are appropriate tools to identify both new targets, like IGF2, and predictive biomarkers of response/resistance to targeted therapies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Heterografts / metabolism
  • Heterografts / pathology*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)