Efficacy of temozolomide combined with capecitabine (CAPTEM) on refractory prolactinomas as assessed using an ex vivo 3D spheroid assay
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Refractory prolactinomas resistant to dopamine agonists (DAs) pose a clinical challenge. Temozolomide (TMZ) is a recommended treatment option, but its effects are difficult to predict, and the alternatives are limited. Recent reports suggested that TMZ combined with capecitabine (CAPTEM) can be effective for the treatment of aggressive pituitary tumors. This study sought to evaluate the effect of TMZ in an ex vivo three-dimensional (3D) spheroid culture assay and determine if this assay could be used to predict the therapeutic effect of CAPTEM in actual refractory prolactinomas.
Surgically resected tumor tissues from two patients with refractory prolactinoma were cultured as 3D spheroids. The effects of TMZ were assessed based on its suppression of cell viability and reduction of prolactin (PRL) levels.
In Case 1, the 3D culture assay showed no effect of TMZ on cell viability or PRL suppression. Clinically, TMZ treatment did not reduce PRL levels (8870→8274 ng/mL) and the tumor progression. However, CAPTEM partially reduced PRL levels (9070→4046 ng/mL) and suppressed the tumor growth. In Case 2, TMZ in the 3D culture assay showed a 50% reduction of cell viability and 40% reduction of PRL levels. Clinically, CAPTEM was highly effective, with a considerable reduction in PRL level (17,500→210 ng/mL), and MRI showed almost no residual tumor.
This is the first report to describe the effects of CAPTEM treatment on refractory prolactinomas. The ex vivo 3D spheroid culture assay reliably predicted TMZ sensitivity and informed the selection between TMZ or CAPTEM treatment for refractory prolactinomas.