Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gut. 2012 May;61(5):725-33. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-300433. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

Clinical application of a systems model of apoptosis execution for the prediction of colorectal cancer therapy responses and personalisation of therapy.

Author information

Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 Saint Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.



Key to the clinical management of colorectal cancer is identifying tools which aid in assessing patient prognosis and determining more effective and personalised treatment strategies. We evaluated whether an experimental systems biology strategy which analyses the susceptibility of cancer cells to undergo caspase activation can be exploited to predict patient responses to 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy and to case-specifically identify potential alternative targeted treatments to reactivate apoptosis.


We quantified five essential apoptosis-regulating proteins (Pro-Caspases 3 and 9, APAF-1, SMAC and XIAP) in samples of Stage II (n = 13) and III (n=17) tumour and normal colonic (n = 8) tissue using absolute quantitative immunoblotting and employed systems simulations of apoptosis signalling to predict the susceptibility of tumour cells to execute apoptosis. Additional systems analyses assessed the efficacy of novel apoptosis-inducing therapeutics such as XIAP antagonists, proteasome inhibitors and Pro-Caspase-3-activating compounds in restoring apoptosis execution in apoptosis-incompetent tumours.


Comparisons of caspase activity profiles demonstrated that the likelihood of colorectal tumours to undergo apoptosis decreases with advancing disease stage. Systems-level analysis correctly predicted positive or negative outcome in 85% (p=0.004) of colorectal cancer patients receiving 5-fluorouracil based chemotherapy and significantly outperformed common uni- and multi-variate statistical approaches. Modelling of individual patient responses to novel apoptosis-inducing therapeutics revealed markedly different inter-individual responses.


Our study represents the first proof-of-concept example demonstrating the significant clinical potential of systems biology-based approaches for predicting patient outcome and responsiveness to novel targeted treatment paradigms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center