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Hepatology. 2005 Jun;41(6):1233-40.

Effective angiostatic treatment in a murine metastatic and orthotopic hepatoma model.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Bonn, Germany.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) activity is correlated with a progressive tumor disease in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In spite of the well-recognized role of VEGF in HCC, there are few data available regarding therapeutic strategies to block VEGF activity. Therefore, we employed a recombinant adenoviral vector encoding a soluble dominant negative fragment of VEGF receptor 2 (Flk-1), AdsFlk-1, to control pre-established murine orthotopic and metastatic hepatomas. Vector function was confirmed via reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and ELISA, and angiostatic effects were analyzed in vitro and in vivo. Antitumoral effects of systemic AdsFlk-1 application were studied in a subcutaneous and orthotopic Hepa129 HCC model. Cell supernatant containing the truncated form of Flk-1 had no direct effect on cell proliferation of Hepa129 cells in vitro but reduced endothelial tube formation on matrigel matrix by approximately 80% in vitro. Endothelial-like cell infiltration into matrigel plugs in vivo was also decreased by 80%. Systemic treatment of tumor-bearing mice inhibited tumor growth by 84% compared with the corresponding control group within 16 days after vector application. Likewise, the survival rate was significantly improved in the AdsFlk-1 group compared with control. Orthotopic tumor growth was reduced by 82%, and development of malignant ascites was also retarded. In conclusion, systemic adenoviral-mediated gene transfer of an Flk-1 fragment significantly inhibited tumor growth in orthotopic and metastatic murine HCC. The data support the value of VEGF blockade as an effective target for HCC treatment.

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