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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Jan 15;11(2 Pt 1):743-50.

Thalidomide radiosensitizes tumors through early changes in the tumor microenvironment.

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  • 1Laboratories of Biomedical Magnetic Resonance, Université Catholique de Louvain, Avenue E. Mounier 73-40, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.



The aim of this work was to study changes in the tumor microenvironment early after an antiangiogenic treatment using thalidomide (a promising angiogenesis inhibitor in a variety of cancers), with special focus on a possible "normalization" of the tumor vasculature that could be exploited to improve radiotherapy.


Tumor oxygenation, perfusion, permeability, interstitial fluid pressure (IFP), and radiation sensitivity were studied in an FSAII tumor model. Mice were treated by daily i.p. injection of thalidomide at a dose of 200 mg/kg. Measurements of the partial pressure of oxygen (pO(2)) were carried out using electron paramagnetic resonance oximetry. Three complementary techniques were used to assess the blood flow inside the tumor: dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, Patent Blue staining, and laser Doppler imaging. IFP was measured by a "wick-in-needle" technique.


Our results show that thalidomide induces tumor reoxygenation within 2 days. This reoxygenation is correlated with a reduction in IFP and an increase in perfusion. These changes can be attributed to extensive vascular remodeling that we observed using CD31 labeling.


In summary, the microenvironmental changes induced by thalidomide were sufficient to radiosensitize tumors. The fact that thalidomide radiosensitization was not observed in vitro, and that in vivo radiosensitization occurred in a narrow time window, lead us to believe that initial vascular normalization by thalidomide accounts for tumor radiosensitization.

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