Background: Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of glioblastoma (GBM) are a central tool for neuro-oncology research and drug development, enabling the detection of patient-specific differences in growth, and in vivo drug response. However, existing PDX models are not well suited for large-scale or automated studies. Thus, here, we investigate if a fast zebrafish-based PDX model, supported by longitudinal, AI-driven image analysis, can recapitulate key aspects of glioblastoma growth and enable case-comparative drug testing.
Methods: We engrafted 11 GFP-tagged patient-derived GBM IDH wild-type cell cultures (PDCs) into 1-day-old zebrafish embryos, and monitored fish with 96-well live microscopy and convolutional neural network analysis. Using light-sheet imaging of whole embryos, we analyzed further the invasive growth of tumor cells.
Results: Our pipeline enables automatic and robust longitudinal observation of tumor growth and survival of individual fish. The 11 PDCs expressed growth, invasion and survival heterogeneity, and tumor initiation correlated strongly with matched mouse PDX counterparts (Spearman R = 0.89, p < 0.001). Three PDCs showed a high degree of association between grafted tumor cells and host blood vessels, suggesting a perivascular invasion phenotype. In vivo evaluation of the drug marizomib, currently in clinical trials for GBM, showed an effect on fish survival corresponding to PDC in vitro and in vivo marizomib sensitivity.
Conclusions: Zebrafish xenografts of GBM, monitored by AI methods in an automated process, present a scalable alternative to mouse xenograft models for the study of glioblastoma tumor initiation, growth, and invasion, applicable to patient-specific drug evaluation.
Keywords: 3R; convolutional neural network; patient-derived xenografts; perivascular invasion; precision medicine.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Neuro-Oncology.