Establishment and characterization of patient-derived cancer models of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors

Cancer Cell Int. 2020 Feb 19:20:58. doi: 10.1186/s12935-020-1128-z. eCollection 2020.


Background: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are a rare subtype of soft-tissue sarcoma, derived from a peripheral branch or the sheath of the sciatic nerve, brachial plexus, or sacral plexus. The clinical outcomes for MPNST patients with unresectable or metastatic tumors are dismal, and novel therapeutic strategies are required. Although patient-derived cancer cell lines are vital for basic research and preclinical studies, few MPNST cell lines are available from public cell banks. Therefore, the aim of this study was to establish cancer cell lines derived from MPNST patients.

Methods: We used tumor tissues from five patients with MPNSTs, including one derived from a rare bone tissue MPNST. The tumor tissues were obtained at the time of surgery and were immediately processed to establish cell lines. A patient-derived xenograft was also established when a sufficient amount of tumor tissue was available. The characterization of established cells was performed with respect to cell proliferation, spheroid formation, and invasion. The mutation status of actionable genes was monitored by NCC Oncopanel, by which the mutation of 114 genes was assessed by next-generation sequencing. The response to anti-cancer agents, including anti-cancer drugs approved for the treatment of other malignancies was investigated in the established cell lines.

Results: We established five cell lines (NCC-MPNST1-C1, NCC-MPNST2-C1, NCC-MPNST3-C1, NCC-MPNST4-C1, and NCC-MPNST5-C1) from the original tumors, and also established patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) from which one cell line (NCC-MPNST3-X2-C1) was produced. The established MPNST cell lines proliferated continuously and formed spheroids while exhibiting distinct invasion abilities. The cell lines had typical mutations in the actionable genes, and the mutation profiles differed among the cell lines. The responsiveness to examined anti-cancer agents differed among cell lines; while the presence of an actionable gene mutation did not correspond with the response to the anticipated anti-cancer agents.

Conclusion: The established cell lines exhibit various characteristics, including proliferation and invasion potential. In addition, they had different mutation profiles and response to the anti-cancer agents. These observations suggest that the established cell lines will be useful for future research on MPNSTs.

Keywords: Drug screening; Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor; Primary culture; Xenograft.