Extensive disease small cell lung cancer dose-response relationships: Implications for resistance mechanisms

David J. Stewart, Constance Johnson, Adriana Lopez, Bonnie Glisson, Jay M. Rhee, B. Nebiyou Bekele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Some studies (but not others) suggested that high doses are beneficial in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) We hypothesized that dose-response curve (DRC) shape reflects resistance mechanisms. Methods: We reviewed published SCLC clinical trials and converted response rates into estimated mean tumor cell kill, assuming killing is proportional to reduction in tumor volume. Mean % cell survival was plotted versus planned dose intensity. Nonlinear and linear meta-regression analyses (weighted according to the number of patients in each study) were used to assess DRC characteristics. Results: Although associations between dose and cell survival were not statistically significant, DRCs sloped downward for five of seven agents across all doses and for all seven when lowest doses were excluded. Maximum mean cell kill across all drugs and doses was approximately 90%, suggesting that there may be a maximum achievable tumor cell kill irrespective of number of agents or drug doses. Conclusions: Downward DRC slopes suggest that maintaining relatively high doses may possibly maximize palliation, although the associations between dose and slope did not achieve statistical significance, and slopes for most drugs tended to be shallow. DRC flattening at higher doses would preclude cure and would suggest that "saturable passive resistance" (deficiency of factors required for cell killing) limits maximum achievable cell kill. An example of factors that could flatten the DRC at higher doses and lead to saturable passive resistance would be presence of quiescent, noncycling cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1826-1834
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Dose-response
  • Quiescence.
  • Resistance
  • Small cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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