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J Hepatol. 2008 Jul;49(1):52-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2008.02.022. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Bevacizumab and rapamycin induce growth suppression in mouse models of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Division of Cellular and Molecular Research, National Cancer Centre of Singapore, 11 Hospital Drive, Singapore 169610, Singapore.



Hepatocellular carcinoma is a leading cause of global cancer mortality, with standard chemotherapy being minimally effective in prolonging survival. We investigated if combined targeting of vascular endothelial growth factor protein and expression might affect hepatocellular carcinoma growth and angiogenesis.


We treated patient-derived hepatocellular carcinoma xenografts with (i) bevacizumab; (ii) rapamycin; and (iii) bevacizumab plus rapamycin. Western blotting was employed to determine changes in the proteins. Apoptosis, vascular endothelial growth factor expression, microvessel density, and cell proliferation were analyzed by immunohistochemistry.


Hepatocellular carcinoma growth was inhibited by bevacizumab plus rapamycin treatment to a significantly greater degree than bevacizumab or rapamycin monotherapy. Reductions in tumor growth by bevacizumab plus rapamycin were associated with inhibition of downstream targets of the mammalian target-of-rapamycin pathway, reductions in vascular endothelial growth factor expression, and tumor microvessel density. Potentially additive effects of bevacizumab plus rapamycin included reductions in vascular endothelial growth factor expression, cyclin D1, and cyclin B1. In an intra-peritoneal model of hepatocellular carcinoma, bevacizumab plus rapamycin potently inhibited both intra-liver and intra-abdominal tumor growth, reduced ascites levels, and significantly prolonged mouse survival.


Bevacizumab and rapamycin, which are both clinically approved drugs, may represent a novel molecularly-targeted combination treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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