Doxorubicin-provoked increase of mitotic activity and concomitant drain of G0-pool in therapy-resistant BE(2)-C neuroblastoma.
In this study chemotherapy response in neuroblastoma (NB) was assessed for the first time in a transplantation model comprising non-malignant human embryonic microenvironment of pluripotent stem cell teratoma (PSCT) derived from diploid bona fide hESC. Two NB cell lines with known high-risk phenotypes; the multi-resistant BE(2)-C and the drug sensitive IMR-32, were transplanted to the PSCT model and the tumour growth was exposed to single or repeated treatments with doxorubicin, and thereafter evaluated for cell death, apoptosis, and proliferation. Dose dependent cytotoxic effects were observed, this way corroborating the experimental platform for this type of analysis. Notably, analysis of doxorubicin-resilient BE(2)-C growth in the PSCT model revealed an unexpected 1,5-fold increase in Ki67-index (p<0.05), indicating that non-cycling (G0) cells entered the cell cycle following the doxorubicin exposure. Support for this notion was obtained also in vitro. A pharmacologically relevant dose (1μM) resulted in a marked accumulation of Ki67 positive BE(2)-C cells (p<0.0001), as well as a >3-fold increase in active cell cycle (i.e. cells positive staining for PH3 together with incorporation of EdU) (p<0.01). Considering the clinical challenge for treating high-risk NB, the discovery of a therapy-provoked growth-stimulating effect in the multi-resistant and p53-mutated BE(2)-C cell line, but not in the drug-sensitive p53wt IMR-32 cell line, warrants further studies concerning generality and clinical significance of this new observation.