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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Feb 15;11(4):1588-96.

Patupilone acts as radiosensitizing agent in multidrug-resistant cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Zurich, Ramistr. 100, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland.


Interference with microtubule function is a promising antitumoral concept. Paclitaxel is a clinically validated tubulin-targeting agent; however, treatment with paclitaxel is often limited by taxane-related toxicities and is ineffective in tumors with multidrug-resistant cells. Patupilone (EPO906, epothilone B) is a novel non-taxane-related microtubule-stabilizing natural compound that retains full activity in multidrug-resistant tumors and is clinically less toxic than paclitaxel. Here we have investigated the effect of combined treatment with ionizing radiation and patupilone or paclitaxel in the P-glycoprotein-overexpressing, p53-mutated human colon adenocarcinoma cell line SW480 and in murine, genetically defined E1A/ras-transformed paclitaxel-sensitive embryo fibroblasts. Patupilone and paclitaxel alone and in combination with ionizing radiation reduced the proliferative activity of the E1A/ras-transformed cell line with similar potency in the sub and low nanomolar range. SW480 cells were only sensitive to patupilone, and combined treatment with low-dose patupilone (0.1 nmol/L) followed by clinically relevant doses of ionizing radiation (2 and 5 Gy) resulted in a supra-additive cytotoxic effect. Inhibition of the drug efflux protein P-glycoprotein with verapamil resensitized SW480 cells to treatment with low doses of paclitaxel alone and in combination with IR. In tumor xenografts derived from SW480 cells a minimal treatment regimen with patupilone and fractionated irradiation (1 x 2 mg/kg plus 4 x 3 Gy) resulted in an at least additive tumor response with extended tumor growth arrest. Analysis by flow cytometry in vitro revealed an apoptosis- and G(2)-M-independent mode of radiosensitization by patupilone. Interestingly though, a transient accumulation of cells in S phase was observed on combined treatment.Overall, patupilone might be a promising alternative in paclitaxel-resistant, P-glycoprotein-overexpressing tumors for a combined treatment regimen using ionizing radiation and a microtubule inhibitor.

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