Clin Cancer Res 2020 Apr 12;26(8):1932-1943. Epub 2019 Dec 12.
Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Research Group, Louvain Drug Research Institute, UCLouvain, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
Purpose: Optimal head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patient selection for anti-EGFR-based therapy remains an unmet need since only a minority of patients derive long-term benefit from cetuximab treatment. We assessed the ability of state-of-the-art noninvasive metabolic imaging to probe metabolic shift in cetuximab-sensitive and -resistant HNSCC patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDTXs).
Experimental Design: Three models selected based on their known sensitivity to cetuximab in patients (cetuximab-sensitive or acquired-resistant HNC007 PDTXs, cetuximab-naïve UCLHN4 PDTXs, and cetuximab-resistant HNC010 PDTXs) were inoculated in athymic nude mice.
Results: Cetuximab induced tumor size stabilization in mice for 4 weeks in cetuximab-sensitive and -naïve models treated with weekly injections (30 mg/kg) of cetuximab. Hyperpolarized C-pyruvate-C-lactate exchange was significantly decreased in cetuximab-sensitive xenograft models 8 days after treatment initiation, whereas it was not modified in cetuximab-resistant xenografts. analysis of sensitive tumors resected at day 8 after treatment highlighted specific metabolic changes, likely to participate in the decrease in the lactate to pyruvate ratio . Diffusion MRI showed a decrease in tumor cellularity in the HNC007-sensitive tumors, but failed to show sensitivity to cetuximab in the UCLHN4 model.
Conclusions: This study constitutes the first demonstration of cetuximab-induced metabolic changes in cetuximab-sensitive HNSCC PDTXs that were not present in resistant tumors. Using metabolic imaging, we were able to identify hyperpolarized C-pyruvate as a potential marker for response and resistance to the EGFR inhibitor in HNSCC.