Authors: Junk, David; Krämer, Sebastian; Broschewitz, Johannes; Laura, Hennig; Massa, Chiara; Moulla, Yousef; Hoang, Ngoc Anh; Monecke, Astrid; Eichfeld, Uwe; Bechmann, Ingo; Lordick, Florian; Seliger, Barbara; Kallendrusch, Sonja
Issue: Cell Death Discov. 2021 Sep 25;7(1):264.
Despite novel immunotherapies being approved and established for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), ex vivo models predicting individual patients’ responses to immunotherapies are missing. Especially immune modulating therapies with moderate response rates urge for biomarkers and/or assays to determine individual prediction of treatment response and investigate resistance mechanisms. Here, we describe a standardized ex vivo tissue culture model to investigate individual tumor responses. NSCLC tissue cultures preserve morphological characteristics of the baseline tumor specimen for up to 12 days ex vivo and also maintain T-cell function for up to 10 days ex vivo. A semi-automated analysis of proliferating and apoptotic tumor cells was used to evaluate tissue responses to the PD-1 inhibitor nivolumab (n = 12), from which two cases could be successfully correlated to the clinical outcome. T-cell responses upon nivolumab treatment were investigated by flow cytometry and multispectral imaging. Alterations in the frequency of the Treg population and reorganization of tumor tissues could be correlated to nivolumab responsiveness ex vivo. Thus, our findings not only demonstrate the functionality of T cells in NSCLC slice cultures up to 10 days ex vivo, but also suggests this model for stratifying patients for treatment selection and to investigate in depth the tumor-associated T-cell regulation.