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Am J Pathol. 1990 Nov;137(5):1121-42.

Inhibition of angiogenesis and tumor growth in the brain. Suppression of endothelial cell turnover by penicillamine and the depletion of copper, an angiogenic cofactor.

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Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Microvascular proliferation, a hallmark of malignant brain tumors, represents an attractive target of anticancer research, especially because of the quiescent nonproliferative endothelium of the normal brain. Cerebral neoplasms sequester copper, a trace metal that modulates angiogenesis. Using a rabbit brain tumor model, normocupremic animals developed large vascularized VX2 carcinomas. By contrast, small, circumscribed, relatively avascular tumors were found in the brains of rabbits copper-depleted by diet and penicillamine treatment (CDPT). The CDPT rabbits showed a significant decrease in serum copper, copper staining of tumor cell nuclei, microvascular density, the tumor volume, endothelial cell turnover, and an increase in the vascular permeability (breakdown of the blood-brain barrier), as well as peritumoral brain edema. In non-tumor-bearing animals, CDPT did not alter the vascular permeability or the brain water content. CDPT also inhibited the intracerebral growth of the 9L gliosarcoma in F-344 rats, with a similar increase of the peritumoral vascular permeability and the brain water content. CDPT failed to inhibit tumor growth and the vascularization of the VX2 carcinoma in the thigh muscle or the metastases to the lung, findings that may reflect regional differences in the responsiveness of the endothelium, the distribution of copper, or the activity of cuproenzymes. Metabolic and pharmacologic withdrawal of copper suppresses intracerebral tumor angiogenesis; angiosuppression is a novel biologic response modifier for the in situ control of tumor growth in the brain.

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