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The colon adenoma-carcinoma sequence is a multistep genomic-altering process that occurs during colorectal cancer (CRC) carcinogenesis. Organoids are now commonly used to model both non-cancerous and cancerous tissue. This study aims to investigate how well organoids mimic tissues in the adenoma-carcinoma sequence by comparing their transcriptomes. A total of 234 tissue samples (48 adenomas and 186 CRC) and 60 organoid samples (15 adenomas and 45 CRC) were analyzed. We found that cell-proliferation-related gene sets were consistently enriched in both CRC tissues and organoids compared to adenoma tissues and organoids by gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA). None of the known pathways in the colon adenoma-carcinoma sequence were consistently enriched in CRC organoids. There was no enrichment of the tumor microenvironment-related gene sets in CRC organoids. CRC tissues enriched immune-response-related gene sets, whereas CRC organoids did not. The proportions of infiltrating immune cells were different between tissues and organoids, whereas there was no difference between cancer and adenoma organoids. The amounts of cancer stem cells and progenitor cells were not different between CRC and adenoma organoids, whereas a difference was noted between CRC and adenoma tissues. In conclusion, we demonstrated that organoids model only part of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence and should be used with caution after considering their limitations.


Yoshihisa Tokumaru, Masanori Oshi, Ankit Patel, Wanqing Tian, Li Yan, Nobuhisa Matsuhashi, Manabu Futamura, Kazuhiro Yoshida, Kazuaki Takabe. Organoids Are Limited in Modeling the Colon Adenoma-Carcinoma Sequence. Cells. 2021 Feb 25;10(3)

PMID: 33668713

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