3-D cell culture models for detection of biomarker indicating anti-EGFR antibody resistance in colon cancer patients


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Jens Hahne1,Andrea Lampis1,Michele Ghidini2,Margherita Ratti2,Massimiliano Salati1,Chiara Senti2,Rodolfo Passalacqua2,Luciano Cascione3,Chiara Braconi1,Owen Sansom4,Matteo Fassan5,Nicola Valeri1
1The Institute of Cancer Research London,2Istituti Ospitalieri di Cremona,3Institute of Cancer Research Belinzola,4The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research,5University of Padua

Abstract

Background

Monoclonal antibodies against the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) such as cetuximab or panitumumab are used for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients. Unfortunately, most patients develop resistance against these therapies within months. Several studies have shown that aberrations in the RAS pathway are responsible for resistance. However, even in metastases that are refractory to anti-EGFR treatment a significant fraction of RAS wild-type (wt) cells remain. These findings suggest a cross-talk between RAS mutant and wt cells in mediating resistance in the wt compartment.

Method

Mouse and patient-derived organoids from mCRC as well as CRC cell lines were used to test the contribution of extracellular vesicles in mediating resistance in RAS wt cells. Using conditioned media, transfection experiments and liquid biopsies (plasma and urine) from patients differential expression of the let-7g microRNA was demonstrated in microvesicles from cetuximab sensitive and resistant cells. Changes in expression of the let-7g microRNA were further analysed by in-situ hybridization in tissues.

Results

Basal let-7g expression from pre-treatment plasma and urine samples of RAS wt patients correlated with clinical outcome and changes in let-7g circulating levels mirrored clinical behaviour. In-situ hybridization in tissues confirmed changes in expression of the let-7g microRNA observed in plasma and urine samples.

Conclusion

Our data suggest that let-7g microRNA might function as a paracrine mediator of anti-EGFR resistance and might be exploited as a non-invasive biomarker of resistance to cetuximab treatment. Further work is ongoing to characterize the molecular mechanisms underpinning let-7g mediated effect on anti-EGFR sensitivity in RAS wt CRC cells.