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Oncol Rep. 2011 Nov;26(5):1075-80. doi: 10.3892/or.2011.1422. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Sunitinib inhibits tumor vascularity and growth but does not affect Akt and ERK phosphorylation in xenograft tumors.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Perugia, I-06126 Perugia, Italy.

Abstract

Sunitinib is a multikinase inhibitor approved for use in some human solid malignancies, including renal clear cell and gastrointestinal stromal cancer, and under investigation for many other neoplasias. In many preclinical cancer models sunitinib has shown anti-angiogenic and antitumor effects, acting mainly by inhibiting the activity of pro-angiogenic growth factor receptors. However, a percentage of tumors develop resistance to this treatment. The aim of this study was to identify novel potential molecular targets for the non- responsive tumors. The effects of sunitinib were investigated in xenograft tumors obtained by injecting HEK293 cells into NOD-SCID mice, focusing on the activity of growth-regulating pathways involved in tumorigenesis. During 11 days of oral administration of sunitinib (40 mg/kg/day), the growth of tumors was monitored by measuring the mass volume by a caliper. At the end of the treatment, tumor specimens were histologically examined for microvessel density (MVD) and presence of necrosis, and the phosphorylation of ERK and Akt was analyzed in protein extracts by Western blotting. Moreover, the mRNA levels of VEGF and its receptor genes were measured by quantitative RT-PCR. Treatment with sunitinib elicited a clear reduction of the tumor growth, associated with a reduction of MVD, correlated with an increased number of necrotic cells. In contrast, the levels of phosphorylated Akt and ERK proteins were similar in treated and non-treated animals. The VEGF and VEGFR-1 and 2 transcripts were not affected by sunitinib treatment. In conclusion, these findings confirm the anti-angiogenic action as the major effect of sunitinib against tumor growth. In contrast, other important growth regulatory pathways involved in malignant trans-formation, such as the ERK-MAPK and Akt/mTOR pathways are not affected by such a treatment, suggesting the use of specific inhibitors of these pathways as valid candidates for combinatorial therapies in sunitinib-resistant malignancies.

PMID:
21850379
DOI:
10.3892/or.2011.1422
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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