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J Korean Surg Soc. 2012 Jul;83(1):21-9. doi: 10.4174/jkss.2012.83.1.21. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

Characterization of biological responses of colorectal cancer cells to anticancer regimens.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Identification of subgroups of patients who differ in their response to treatment could help to establish which of the best available chemotherapeutic options are best, based on biological activity. In metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC), novel molecular-targeted agents that act on pathways that regulate cell growth, the cell cycle, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and invasion are being developed. Here, we employed an in vitro chemosensitivity assay to evaluate the biological efficacy of conventional monotherapies and combination chemotherapy with targeted drugs.


The chemosensitivities of 12 CRC cell lines to the established regimens FOLFOX (5-fluorouracil [5-FU] + leucovorin + oxaliplatin) and FOLFIRI (5-FU + leucovorin + irinotecan) and to therapy with these regimens in combination with the biologically targeted drugs bevacizumab or cetuximab were comparatively evaluated for their effects on apoptotic and autophagic cell death processes, angiogenesis, and invasion.


Each of the chemotherapeutic regimens promoted apoptotic cell death and invasion. All drug regimens caused significantly greater apoptotic cell death with activation of caspase-3 in SW480 cells compared to other cells, effects that were associated with a remarkable reduction in matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity. The FOLFOX regimen more effectively promoted apoptotic cell death, angiogenesis, and invasion than the FOLFIRI regimen. Combination therapy with FOLFOX/FOLFIRI regimen and bevacizumab produced a moderate angiogenesis-blocking effect in most cell lines.


The results validate our in vitro chemosensitivity assay, and suggest that it may be applied to help determine adequate regimens in individual CRC patients based on the biological characteristics of their tumors.


Chemotherapy; Colorectal neoplasms; Pharmacological biomarkers

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