Patient-derived xenografts faithfully replicated clinical outcome in a phase II co-clinical trial of arsenic trioxide in relapsed small cell lung cancer

Taofeek K. Owonikoko, Guojing Zhang, Hyun S. Kim, Renea M. Stinson, Rabih Bechara, Chao Zhang, Zhengjia Chen, Nabil F. Saba, Suchita Pakkala, Rathi Pillai, Xingming Deng, Shi Yong Sun, Michael R. Rossi, Gabriel L. Sica, Suresh S. Ramalingam, Fadlo R. Khuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: SCLC has limited treatment options and inadequate preclinical models. Promising activity of arsenic trioxide (ASO) recorded in conventional preclinical models of SCLC supported the clinical evaluation of ASO in patients. We assessed the efficacy of ASO in relapsed SCLC patients and in corresponding patient-derived xenografts (PDX). Methods: Single arm, Simon 2-stage, phase II trial to enroll patients with relapsed SCLC who have failed at least one line of therapy. ASO was administered as an intravenous infusion over 1-2h daily for 4days in week 1 and for 2days in weeks 2-6 of an 8-week cycle. Treatment continued until disease progression. Pretreatment tumor biopsy was employed for PDX generation through direct implantation into subcutaneous pockets of SCID mice without in vitro manipulation and serially propagated for five generations. Ex vivo efficacy of cisplatin (3mg/kg i.p. weekly) and ASO (3.75mg/kg i.p. every other day) was tested in PDX representative of platinum sensitive and platinum refractory SCLC. Results: The best response in 17 evaluable patients was stable disease in 2 (12%), progressive disease in 15 (88%) patients and median time-to-progression of seven (range 1-7) weeks. PDX was successfully grown in 5 of 9 (56%) transplanted biopsy samples. Serially-propagated PDXs preserved characteristic small cell histology and genomic stability confirmed by immunohistochemistry, short tandem repeat (STR) profiling and targeted sequencing. ASO showed in vitro cytotoxicity but lacked in vivo efficacy against SCLC PDX tumor growth. Conclusions: Cisplatin inhibited growth of PDX derived from platinum-sensitive SCLC but was ineffective against PDX from platinum-refractory SCLC. Strong concordance between clinical and ex vivo effects of ASO and cisplatin in SCLC supports the use of PDX models to prescreen promising anticancer agents prior to clinical testing in SCLC patients. Trial Registration The study was registered at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 3 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Arsenic trioxide
  • Clinical trial
  • Efficacy
  • Ex vivo
  • Patient-derived xenograft
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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