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Oncol Rep. 2007 Oct;18(4):801-9.

Combination therapy of interferon-alpha and 5-fluorouracil inhibits tumor angiogenesis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells by regulating vascular endothelial growth factor and angiopoietins.

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Department of Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Suita 565-0871, Osaka, Japan.


We recently reported that interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) combination therapy in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) achieved excellent clinical results. However, the mechanism underlying this combination therapy remains to be elucidated. In this study, we examined the anti-tumor effects of IFN-alpha and 5-FU combination therapy in vivo and aimed to reveal its anti-angiogenic effects by investigating the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietins (Ang-1 and Ang-2). Human HCC cells, HuH7, were subcutaneously injected in nude mice. Ten days later, groups of mice received treatment with IFN-alpha alone, 5-FU alone, or with a combination of IFN-alpha and 5-FU for four weeks. Immunohistochemical examinations of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), cell differentiation antigen 34 (CD34), Ang-1, -2 and VEGF, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) assay and quantification of VEGF, Ang-1 and-2 mRNA using real-time RT-PCR were performed. Results showed that IFN-alpha and 5-FU combination therapy significantly inhibited the growth of human HCC cells compared with the control group or single agent treatment. The combination therapy decreased PCNA-positive cells as well as microvessel density (MVD) and induced apoptosis of (TUNEL-positive cells) more than other treatment groups. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the combination therapy significantly decreased the expression of VEGF and Ang-2 and increased that of Ang-1. The ANG2/ANG1 mRNA expression ratio was significantly lower in the combination therapy group. In conclusion, our results suggested that IFN-alpha and 5-FU combination therapy has anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic effects and can induce apoptosis in vivo. The synergistic and anti-angiogenic effects may in part be attributable to the regulation of Ang-1, -2 and VEGF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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