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Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Nov;6(11):2879-90. Epub 2007 Nov 7.

Collaboration between hepatic and intratumoral prodrug activation in a P450 prodrug-activation gene therapy model for cancer treatment.

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Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Presently, we investigate the mechanisms whereby intratumoral expression of a cyclophosphamide-activating hepatic cytochrome P450 gene enhances therapeutic activity when cyclophosphamide is given on an every 6-day (metronomic) schedule. In P450-deficient 9L gliosarcomas grown in severe combined immunodeficient mice, metronomic cyclophosphamide substantially decreased tumor microvessel density and induced a approximately 70% loss of endothelial cells that began after the second cyclophosphamide treatment. These responses were accompanied by increased expression of the endogenous angiogenesis inhibitor thrombospondin-1 in tumor-associated host cells but by decreased expression in 9L tumor cells. These antiangiogenic responses preceded tumor regression and are likely key to the therapeutic activity of metronomic cyclophosphamide. Unexpectedly, 9L/2B11 tumors, grown from 9L cells infected with retrovirus encoding the cyclophosphamide-activating P450 2B11, exhibited antiangiogenic responses very similar to 9L tumors. This indicates that the tumor endothelial cell population is well exposed to liver-activated cyclophosphamide metabolites and that intratumoral P450 confers limited additional anti-endothelial cell bystander activity. In contrast, an increase in apoptosis, which preceded the antiangiogenic response, was substantially enhanced by intratumoral P450 2B11 expression. 9L/2B11 tumor regression was accompanied by an overall loss of tumor cellularity and by substantial enlargement of remaining P450-immunoreactive tumor cells as the number of P450-positive tumor cell decreased and the P450 protein content declined with cyclophosphamide treatment. We conclude that metronomic cyclophosphamide regresses P450-expressing tumors by two independent but complementary mechanisms: increased tumor cell killing via intratumoral P450-catalyzed prodrug activation, coupled with strong antiangiogenic activity, which is primarily associated with hepatic prodrug activation.

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