Organotypic Slice Cultures as Preclinical Models of Tumor Microenvironment in Primary Pancreatic Cancer and Metastasis
Realistic preclinical models of primary pancreatic cancer and metastasis are urgently needed to test the therapy response ex vivo and facilitate personalized patient treatment. However, the absence of tumor-specific microenvironment in currently used models, e.g., patient-derived cell lines and xenografts, only allows limited predictive insights. Organotypic slice cultures (OTSCs) comprise intact multicellular tissue, which can be rapidly used for the spatially resolved drug response testing. This protocol describes the generation and cultivation of viable tumor slices of pancreatic cancer and its metastasis. Briefly, tissue is casted in low melt agarose and stored in cold isotonic buffer. Next, tissue slices of 300 µm thickness are generated with a vibratome. After preparation, slices are cultured at an air-liquid interface using cell culture inserts and an appropriate cultivation medium. During cultivation, changes in cell differentiation and viability can be monitored. Additionally, this technique enables the application of treatment to viable human tumor tissue ex vivo and subsequent downstream analyses, such as transcriptome and proteome profiling. OTSCs provide a unique opportunity to test the individual treatment response ex vivo and identify individual transcriptomic and proteomic profiles associated with the respective response of distinct slices of a tumor. OTSCs can be further explored to identify therapeutic strategies to personalize treatment of primary pancreatic cancer and metastasis.