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Ups J Med Sci. 1999;104(1):1-24.

Angiostatic treatment of neuroblastoma.

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  • 1Department of Medical Cell Biology, Uppsala University, Biomedical Centre, Sweden.


Neuroblastoma is a malignant solid tumor of childhood with a poor prognosis. The growth of solid tumors has been shown to be dependent on new blood vessel formation, i.e. angiogenesis. Several steps in the metastatic process have also been found to be angiogenesis-dependent. Neuroblastomas grow quickly, are highly vascularized, and metastasize early, and hence inhibition of angiogenesis--angiostatic therapy--may be indicated in this disease. In order to investigate the effects of angiostatic agents in this disease, a new animal experimental model for human neuroblastoma was developed. Three angiostatic agents were tested in the model: TNP-470, the synthetic analogue of fumagillin, given subcutaneously, and the endogenous steroid 2-methoxyestradiol and its derivative 2-propynylestradiol, given orally. TNP-470 administration resulted in a significant reduction of the tumor growth rate and microvascular counts, and of the fraction of viable tumor cells, compared to controls. The fraction of apoptotic tumor cells increased threefold, while that of proliferative cells remained unaltered. This can explain the reduced net growth. Treatment with the angiostatic and chemotherapeutic steroids 2-methoxyestradiol and 2-propynylestradiol yielded similar results. However, the mechanism of action of these steroids was bimodal; the effect occurring both through inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and through induction of tumor cell apoptosis. It was shown for the first time that inhibition of angiogenesis regardless of agent induces striking chromaffin differentiation, observed as increased expression of insulin-like growth factor II gene, tyrosine hydroxylase, and chromogranin A, and increased formation of cellular processes. It is suggested that inhibition of angiogenesis induces metabolic stress, resulting in chromaffin differentiation and apoptosis. Such agonal differentiation may be the link between angiostatic therapy and tumor cell apoptosis. Angiostatic agents administered as single therapy have an objective tumoristatic effect in our neuroblastoma model. Angiostatic treatment of neuroblastoma is a new and promising treatment modality that merits clinical investigation.

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