BACKGROUND. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal malignancies, with unpredictable responses to chemotherapy. Approaches to assay patient tumors before treatment and identify effective treatment regimens based on tumor sensitivities are lacking. We developed an organoid-based platform (OBP) to visually quantify patient-derived organoid (PDO) responses to drug treatments and associated tumor-stroma modulation for personalized PDAC therapy. METHODS. We retrospectively quantified apoptotic responses and tumor-stroma cell proportions in PDOs via 3D immunofluorescence imaging through annexin A5, α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), and cytokeratin 19 (CK-19) levels. Simultaneously, an ex vivo organoid drug sensitivity assay (ODSA) was used to measure responses to standard-of-care regimens. Differences between ODSA results and patient tumor responses were assessed by exact McNemar's test. RESULTS. Immunofluorescence signals, organoid growth curves, and Ki-67 levels were measured and authenticated through the OBP for up to 14 days. ODSA drug responses were not different from patient tumor responses, as reflected by CA19- 9 reductions following neoadjuvant chemotherapy (P = 0.99). PDOs demonstrated unique apoptotic and tumor-stroma modulation profiles (P < 0.0001). α-SMA/CK-19 ratio levels of more than 1.0 were associated with improved outcomes (P = 0.0179) and longer parental patient survival by Kaplan-Meier analysis (P = 0.0046). CONCLUSION. Heterogenous apoptotic drug responses and tumor-stroma modulation are present in PDOs after standard-ofcare chemotherapy. Ratios of α-SMA and CK-19 levels in PDOs are associated with patient survival, and the OBP could aid in the selection of personalized therapies to improve the efficacy of systemic therapy in patients with PDAC.
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