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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Jun 1;11(11):4241-50.

Tumor vascular response to photodynamic therapy and the antivascular agent 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid: implications for combination therapy.

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Department of Cell Stress Biology (Photodynamic Therapy Center), Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York 14263, USA.



Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a clinically approved treatment for a variety of solid malignancies. 5,6-Dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) is a potent vascular targeting agent that has been shown to be effective against a variety of experimental rodent tumors and xenografts and is currently undergoing clinical evaluation. We have previously reported that the activity of PDT against transplanted mouse tumors is selectively enhanced by DMXAA. In the present study, we investigated the in vivo tumor vascular responses to the two treatments given alone and in combination.


Vascular responses to (i) four different PDT regimens using the photosensitizer 2-[1-hexyloxyethyl]-2-devinyl pyropheophorbide-a (HPPH) at two different fluences (128 and 48 J/cm(2)) and fluence rates (112 and 14 mW/cm(2)), (ii) 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA)-sensitized PDT (135 J/cm(2) at 75 mW/cm(2)), (iii) DMXAA at a high (30 mg/kg) and low dose (25 mg/kg), and (iv) the combination of HPPH-PDT (48 J/cm(2) at 112 mW/cm(2)) and low-dose DMXAA were studied in BALB/c mice bearing Colon-26 tumors.


PDT-induced changes in vascular permeability, determined using noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging with a macromolecular contrast agent, were regimen dependent and did not predict tumor curability. However, a pattern of increasing (4 hours after treatment) and then decreasing (24 hours after) contrast agent concentrations in tumors, seen after high-dose DMXAA or the combination of PDT and low-dose DMXAA, was associated with long-term cure rates of >70%. This pattern was attributed to an initial increase in vessel permeability followed by substantial endothelial cell damage (CD31 immunohistochemistry) and loss of blood flow (fluorescein exclusion assay). Low dose-rate PDT, regardless of the delivered dose, increased the level of magnetic resonance contrast agent in peritumoral tissue, whereas treatment with either DMXAA alone, or PDT and DMXAA in combination resulted in a more selective tumor vascular response.


The observed temporal and spatial differences in the response of tumor vessels to PDT and DMXAA treatments could provide valuable assistance in the optimization of scheduling when combining these therapies. The combination of PDT and DMXAA provides therapeutically synergistic and selective antitumor activity. Clinical evaluation of this combination is warranted.

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