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Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 28;9(1):12480. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48764-3.

Effects of culture method on response to EGFR therapy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells.

Author information

1
Morgridge Institute for Research, 330N Orchard street, Madison, WI, USA.
2
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.
3
The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.
4
Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.
5
Department of Oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, USA.
6
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA. djbeebe@wisc.edu.
7
The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA. djbeebe@wisc.edu.
8
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA. djbeebe@wisc.edu.

Abstract

The EGFR pathway plays a critical role in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Targeted therapies against the EGFR are utilized as a treatment for HNSCCC. However, patient response is heterogeneous and molecular biomarkers are lacking to predict patient response. Therefore, functional assays where drug response is directly evaluated in tumor cells are an interesting alternative. Previous studies have shown that experimental conditions modify the drug response observed in functional assays. Thus, in this work the influence of the culture environment on response to Cetuximab (EGFR monoclonal antibody) and AZD8055 (mTOR inhibitor) was evaluated. HNSCC UM-SCC-1 and UM-SCC-47 cells were cultured in 2D monoculture and compared with: 2D co-culture with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF); 3D culture in collagen hydrogels; and 3D culture in tumor spheroids. The results showed UM-SCC-1 drug response significantly changed in the different culture environments; leading to an increase in drug resistance in the CAF co-culture and the 3D spheroids. Conversely, UM-SCC-47 exhibited a more constant drug response across culture conditions. In conclusion, this work highlights the importance of culture conditions that modulate response to EGFR pathway inhibition.

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