Limitations of an ex vivo breast cancer model for studying the mechanism of action of the anticancer drug paclitaxel.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Paclitaxel is widely used in the treatment of breast, ovarian, lung, and other cancers. Its primary mechanism is to prevent microtubule depolymerization causing loss of dynamic instability crucial for normal microtubule function leading to mitotic arrest. Prolonged mitotic arrest results in cell death as a secondary response. The effects of paclitaxel are typically studied in cell lines which precludes assessment of the possible influence of tumor-associated cells. We therefore examined paclitaxel action ex vivo in fresh explant cultures of human breast tumors. Surprisingly, we found that paclitaxel failed to induce tumor cell death in explant culture, in contrast to several other cytotoxic agents including salinomycin and vincristine. The lack of effect was not due to defective drug uptake, and furthermore, analysis of H&E stained tumor slices indicated that paclitaxel treatment caused defective (granular) mitosis and chromosomal condensation in 5-10% of tumor cells after 72 h. These results suggest that while paclitaxel was able to penetrate into the tumor slice and disrupt mitosis in cycling tumor cells, any ensuing cell death likely occurred beyond the useful lifetime of the tumor slices. We conclude that explant culture systems may be inappropriate for the study of cytotoxic drugs where a delay exists between the drug's primary and secondary modes of action.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Urbaniak, A; Piña-Oviedo, S; Yuan, Y; HuczyƄski, A; Chambers, TC

Published Date

  • January 15, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 891 /

Start / End Page

  • 173780 -

PubMed ID

  • 33271152

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-0712

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.173780


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands