Suppression of telomerase activity as an indicator of drug-induced cytotoxicity against cancer cells: In vitro studies with fresh human tumor samples

Isabella Faraoni, Grazia Graziani, Mario Turriziani, Giovanna Masci, Maurizio Mezzetti, Alessandro Testori, Umberto Veronesi, Enzo Bonmassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein complex with reverse-transcriptase activity responsible for telomere reconstitution. High telomerase activity was found in cancer cells, but not in differentiated homologous nonmalignant tissues. We demonstrated previously that the disappearance of telomerase activity is a reliable marker of tumor cell killing in human cancer cell lines. We have investigated the possibility of evaluating chemosensitivity of neoplastic cells of different origin [ovary, lung, breast, gastrointestinal, skin (melanoma)] obtained from cancer patients, by measuring residual telomerase activity after drug treatment in vitro. Using the classical telomeric repeat amplification protocol ('TRAP') assay based on polymerase chain reaction, we examined telomerase activity of untreated or drug-treated tumor cell suspensions, derived from the processing of surgical specimens. Feasibility and reproducibility of the assay were evaluated according to various parameters, including drug concentration, time of in vitro culture, and type of tumor. The results indicated that the assay is highly sensitive and reproducible, and can be performed using surgical specimens in a reasonable percentage of cases, ranging from 40% (breast cancer) to 100% (ovarian cancer). Moreover, the assay provides comparable results using a wide range of tumor cells, and the presence of normal cells does not interfere with the results. Prolonged tumor cell culture is not required because the assay can be completed within 24 to 72 hours after sample collection. In conclusion, the present investigation provides the technical bases for future studies to evaluate whether this assay would be able to predict patient's response to antitumor agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1005
Number of pages13
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Volume79
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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