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Cancer Biol Ther. 2008 Sep;7(9):1377-85. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Everolimus (RAD001) and anti-angiogenic cyclophosphamide show long-term control of gastric cancer growth in vivo.

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  • 1Section of Experimental Oncology/Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Metronomic dosing of cytotoxic drugs such as cyclophosphamide has shown anti-angiogenic activity, most likely by inducing hypoxia in tumors. Hypoxia leads to activation of escape mechanisms allowing tumor cell survival. This potentially limits the activity of anti-angiogenic strategies. We hypothesized that mTORC1 inhibition by everolimus (RAD001) leads to suppression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF resulting in synergistic anti-tumor activity in combination with anti-angiogenically dosed cyclophosphamide. In vitro, effects of everolimus on mTORC1 signaling, proliferation, cell cycle, HIF-1alpha expression and VEGF secretion were evaluated in two gastric cancer cell lines. In vivo, anti-tumor activity of everolimus in combination with metronomic cyclophosphamide was studied in a NCI-N87 human gastric cancer SCID mouse xenograft model. Expression of Ki-67 and HIF-1alpha, activated caspase 3, microvascular density (MVD) and tumor necrotic area assessed. Everolimus decreased proliferation and attenuated production of HIF-1alpha as well as VEGF in gastric cancer cells in vitro. In vivo, everolimus significantly inhibited tumor growth. This anti-tumor activity was linked to a significant increase in tumor necrotic area (p < 0.02) and trends for decreased proliferation, increased apoptosis, decreased HIF-1alpha and lower tumor MVD (p = n.s.). The combination of everolimus and cyclophosphamide resulted in a striking and highly significant long-term tumor growth control compared to monotherapy (p < 0.001), which was associated with a sharp increase in central tumor necrosis (p < 0.001). In conclusion, the combination of everolimus and metronomic cyclophosphamide showed synergistic anti-tumor activity. Depriving cancer cells by everolimus of factors necessary for their survival under hypoxia induced by anti-angiogenic chemotherapy appears to be a promising approach for treatment of gastric cancer.

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