Personalized Medicine-Based Approach to Model Patterns of Chemoresistance and Tumor Recurrence Using Ovarian Cancer Stem Cell Spheroids

Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Nov 15;23(22):6934-6945. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-0133. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


Purpose: Chemoresistant ovarian cancers grow in suspension within the ascites fluid. To screen the effect of chemotherapeutics and biologics on resistant ovarian cancers with a personalized basis, we developed a 3D hanging drop spheroid platform.Experimental Design: We initiated spheroids with primary aldehyde dehydrogenase-positive (ALDH+) CD133+ ovarian cancer stem cells (OvCSC) from different patient samples and demonstrated that stem cell progeny from harvested spheroids was similar to the primary tumor. OvCSC spheroids were utilized to initiate tumors in immunodeficient mice. Drug responses to cisplatin and ALDH-targeting compound or JAK2 inhibitor determined whether the OvCSC population within the spheroids could be targeted. Cells that escaped therapy were isolated and used to initiate new spheroids and model tumor reemergence in a personalized manner.Results: OvCSC spheroids from different patients exhibited varying and personalized responses to chemotherapeutics. Xenografts were established from OvCSC spheroids, even with a single spheroid. Distinct responses to therapy were observed in distinct primary tumor xenografts similar to those observed in spheroids. Spheroids resistant to cisplatin/ALDH inhibitor therapy had persistent, albeit lower ALDH expression and complete loss of CD133 expression, whereas those resistant to cisplatin/JAK2 inhibitor therapy were enriched for ALDH+ cells.Conclusions: Our 3D hanging drop suspension platform can be used to propagate primary OvCSCs that represent individual patient tumors effectively by differentiating in vitro and initiating tumors in mice. Therefore, our platform can be used to study cancer stem cell biology and model tumor reemergence to identify new targeted therapeutics from an effective personalized medicine standpoint. Clin Cancer Res; 23(22); 6934-45. ©2017 AACR.

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Precision Medicine
  • Spheroids, Cellular
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Cisplatin