Chemosensitivity Testing of Circulating Epithelial Tumor Cells (CETC) in Vitro: Correlation to in Vivo Sensitivity and Clinical Outcome

  • Rüdiger N
  • Stein E
  • Schill E
 et al. 
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Background: Chemotherapy is a mainstay of tumor therapy, however, it is predominantly applied according to empiri-cally developed recommendations derived from statistical relapse rates occurring years after the treatment in the adju-vant situation and from progression-free interval data in the metastatic situation, without any possibility of individually determining the efficacy in the adjuvant situation and with loss of time and quality of life in the metastatic situation if the drugs chosen are not effective. Here, we present a method to determine the efficiency of chemotherapeutic drugs using tumor cells circulating in blood as the part of the tumor actually available in the patient's body for chemosensitiv-ity testing. Methodology/Principal Findings: After only red blood cell lysis, omitting any enrichment (analogous to other blood cell enumeration methods, including rare CD34 cells), the white cells comprising the circulating epithelial tumor cells (CETC) are exposed to the drugs in question in different concentrations and for different periods of time. Staining with a fluorescence-labeled anti-epithelial antibody detects both vital and dying tumor cells, distinguishing vital from dying cells through membrane permeability and nuclear staining with propidium iodide. Increasing percent-ages of dying tumor cells are observed dependent on time and concentration. The sensitivity can vary during therapy and was correlated with decrease or increase in CETC and clinical outcome. Conclusions/Significance: Thus, we are able to show that chemosensitivity testing of circulating tumor cells provides real-time information about the sensitivity of the tumor present in the patient, even at different times during therapy, and correlates with treatment success.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Breast Cancer
  • Chemosensitivity Testing
  • Circulating Epithelial Tumor Cells
  • Ovarian Cancer

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  • Nadine Rüdiger

  • Ernst-Ludwig Stein

  • Erika Schill

  • Gabriele Spitz

  • Carola Rabenstein

  • Martina Stauch

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