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Fluorescence-based experimental model to evaluate the concomitant effect of drugs on the tumour microenvironment and cancer cells

Ramasamy, Karthik; Khatun, Hazera; Macpherson, Lee; Caley, Mathew P.; Sturge, Justin; Mufti, Ghulam J.; Schey, Stephen A.; Calle, Yolanda


Karthik Ramasamy

Hazera Khatun

Lee Macpherson

Mathew P. Caley

Ghulam J. Mufti

Stephen A. Schey

Yolanda Calle


The response of the tumour microenvironment to anti-cancer drugs can influence treatment efficacy. Current drug-screening methodologies fail to distinguish and quantify simultaneously the concomitant effect of drugs on the tumour stroma and cancer cells. To overcome this limitation we have developed a fluorescence-based experimental model that employs mCherry-labelled stromal cells (e.g. bone marrow fibroblastic stromal cells) co-cultured in direct contact with enhanced green fluorescent protein-labelled tumour cell lines for accurate assessment of proliferation and viability in both cell compartments and adhesion of tumour cells . Additionally, we used fluorescence-based image analysis to determine morphological changes that correlate with cell function (e.g. morphology of the actin cytoskeleton and nuclearity of osteoclasts to predict their bone resorption activity). Using this platform we have revealed that dexamethasone induces HS5 fibroblast proliferation and contact with multiple myeloma cells via a process involving Src/c-Abl kinases. Osteoclasts also inhibited dexamethasone-induced apoptosis in myeloma cells while retaining their normal morphology and functionality in bone resorption. Myeloma resistance to dexamethasone mediated by HS5 cells and osteoclasts was reversed by treatment with the Src/c-Abl inhibitor dasatinib but not with bortezomib. This new experimental platform provides a more precise screening of new therapeutics for improved efficacy of tumour cell killing within the bone marrow microenvironment. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Ramasamy, K., Khatun, H., Macpherson, L., Caley, M. P., Sturge, J., Mufti, G. J., …Calle, Y. (2012). Fluorescence-based experimental model to evaluate the concomitant effect of drugs on the tumour microenvironment and cancer cells. British journal of haematology, 157(5), 564-579. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2012.09103.x

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 15, 2012
Online Publication Date Mar 20, 2012
Publication Date 2012-06
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal British Journal Of Haematology
Print ISSN 0007-1048
Electronic ISSN 1365-2141
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 157
Issue 5
Pages 564-579
Keywords Myeloma; Tumour microenvironment; Co-culture system; Dexamethasone; Drug-resistance
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