Human gastric cancer modelling using organoids

Gut. 2019 Feb;68(2):207-217. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2017-314549. Epub 2018 Apr 27.


Objective: Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths and the fifth most common malignancy worldwide. In this study, human and mouse gastric cancer organoids were generated to model the disease and perform drug testing to delineate treatment strategies.

Design: Human gastric cancer organoid cultures were established, samples classified according to their molecular profile and their response to conventional chemotherapeutics tested. Targeted treatment was performed according to specific druggable mutations. Mouse gastric cancer organoid cultures were generated carrying molecular subtype-specific alterations.

Results: Twenty human gastric cancer organoid cultures were established and four selected for a comprehensive in-depth analysis. Organoids demonstrated divergent growth characteristics and morphologies. Immunohistochemistry showed similar characteristics to the corresponding primary tissue. A divergent response to 5-fluoruracil, oxaliplatin, irinotecan, epirubicin and docetaxel treatment was observed. Whole genome sequencing revealed a mutational spectrum that corresponded to the previously identified microsatellite instable, genomic stable and chromosomal instable subtypes of gastric cancer. The mutational landscape allowed targeted therapy with trastuzumab for ERBB2 alterations and palbociclib for CDKN2A loss. Mouse cancer organoids carrying Kras and Tp53 or Apc and Cdh1 mutations were characterised and serve as model system to study the signalling of induced pathways.

Conclusion: We generated human and mouse gastric cancer organoids modelling typical characteristics and altered pathways of human gastric cancer. Successful interference with activated pathways demonstrates their potential usefulness as living biomarkers for therapy response testing.

Keywords: gastric cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cdh1 Proteins / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Genes, APC
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Organoids / pathology*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Trastuzumab / pharmacology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Cdh1 Proteins
  • Fzr1 protein, mouse
  • Piperazines
  • Pyridines
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Hras protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • palbociclib
  • Trastuzumab