Ex Vivo Explant Cultures of Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma Enable Evaluation of Primary Tumor Responses to Anticancer Therapy

Cancer Res. 2017 Apr 15;77(8):2029-2039. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-1121. Epub 2017 Feb 15.


To improve treatment outcomes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), preclinical models that can better predict individual patient response to novel therapies are urgently needed. Using freshly resected tumor tissue, we describe an optimized ex vivo explant culture model that enables concurrent evaluation of NSCLC response to therapy while maintaining the tumor microenvironment. We found that approximately 70% of primary NSCLC specimens were amenable to explant culture with tissue integrity intact for up to 72 hours. Variations in cisplatin sensitivity were noted with approximately 50% of cases responding ex vivo Notably, explant responses to cisplatin correlated significantly with patient survival (P = 0.006) irrespective of tumor stage. In explant tissue, cisplatin-resistant tumors excluded platinum ions from tumor areas in contrast to cisplatin-sensitive tumors. Intact TP53 did not predict cisplatin sensitivity, but a positive correlation was observed between cisplatin sensitivity and TP53 mutation status (P = 0.003). Treatment of NSCLC explants with the targeted agent TRAIL revealed differential sensitivity with the majority of tumors resistant to single-agent or cisplatin combination therapy. Overall, our results validated a rapid, reproducible, and low-cost platform for assessing drug responses in patient tumors ex vivo, thereby enabling preclinical testing of novel drugs and helping stratify patients using biomarker evaluation. Cancer Res; 77(8); 2029-39. ©2017 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Cisplatin / pharmacokinetics
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / pharmacology
  • Tissue Culture Techniques / methods
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFSF10 protein, human
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Cisplatin