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Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 29;7(48):79292-79304. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.12685.

Targeting heterogeneity of adrenocortical carcinoma: Evaluation and extension of preclinical tumor models to improve clinical translation.

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Endocrine Research Unit, Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.
Endocrinology Unit, Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.
Department of Surgery, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.


In recent years it has been recognized that clinical translation of novel therapeutic strategies for patients with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) often fails. These disappointing results indicate that the currently utilized tumor models only poorly reflect relevant pathophysiology and, thereby, do not predict clinical applicability of novel pharmacological approaches. However, also the development of new preclinical ACC models has remained a challenge with only one human cell line (NCI-H295R) and one recently established human pediatric xenograft model (SJ-ACC3) being available for this highly heterogeneous malignancy. Our current study furthermore reveals a poor reproducibility of therapeutic action between different clones of the most commonly used tumor model NCI-H295R. In an attempt to broaden the current preclinical armamentarium, we aimed at the development of patient-individual tumor models. During these studies, one xenograft (MUC-1) displayed marked engraftment and sustained tumor growth. MUC-1 tumor analysis revealed highly vascularized, proliferating and SF-1 positive xenografts. In a next step, we characterized all currently available human tumor models for ACC for Ki67, SF-1 and EGF-receptor status in comparison with MUC-1-xenografts. In addition, we established a primary culture, which is now viable over 31 passages with sustained nuclear SF-1 and cytoplasmic 3βHSD immuno-positivity. Subsequent investigation of therapeutic responsiveness upon treatment with the current systemic gold standard EDP-M (etoposide, doxorubicin, cisplatin and mitotane) demonstrated maintenance of the clinically observed drug resistance for MUC-1 exclusively. In summary, we provide evidence for a novel patient-derived tumor model with the potential to improve clinical prediction of novel therapeutic strategies for patients with ACC.


adrenocortical carcinoma; cell line; clinical translation; patient-derived tumor-xenograft; preclinical animal model

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