Patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) as model systems for human cancer

Federica Invrea, Roberta Rovito, Erica Torchiaro, Consalvo Petti, Claudio Isella, Enzo Medico

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) are obtained by transplanting fragments of a patient's tumour into immunodeficient mice. Growth and propagation of PDXs allows correlating therapeutic response in vivo with extensive, multi-dimensional molecular annotation, leading to identification of predictive biomarkers. PDXs are increasingly recognised as clinically relevant models of cancer for several reasons, of which the main is the possibility of studying the behaviour of cancer cells in a natural microenvironment, where they interact with stromal components accrued from the mouse host. PDXs maintain close similarities with the tumour of origin, in terms of tissue architecture, molecular features and response to treatments. Indeed, preclinical trials in PDXs have been shown to match and also anticipate data obtained in patients. Exploration of more complex processes like metastatic evolution and antitumour immune responses is actively pursued with PDXs, as new generations of host models emerge on the horizon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-156
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


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