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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Feb 17;106(7):2353-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812801106. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Anthracycline chemotherapy inhibits HIF-1 transcriptional activity and tumor-induced mobilization of circulating angiogenic cells.

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  • 1Vascular Program, Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Using a cell-based reporter gene assay, we screened a library of drugs in clinical use and identified the anthracycline chemotherapeutic agents doxorubicin and daunorubicin as potent inhibitors of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1)-mediated gene transcription. These drugs inhibited HIF-1 by blocking its binding to DNA. Daily administration of doxorubicin or daunorubicin potently inhibited the transcription of a HIF-1-dependent reporter gene as well as endogenous HIF-1 target genes encoding vascular endothelial growth factor, stromal-derived factor 1, and stem cell factor in tumor xenografts. CXCR4(+)/sca1(+), VEGFR2(+)/CD34(+), and VEGFR2(+)/CD117(+) bone-marrow derived cells were increased in the peripheral blood of SCID mice bearing prostate cancer xenografts but not in tumor-bearing mice treated for 5 days with doxorubicin or daunorubicin, which dramatically reduced tumor vascularization. These results provide a molecular basis for the antiangiogenic effect of anthracycline therapy and have important implications for refining the use of these drugs to treat human cancer more effectively.

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