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Mol Med. 2012 Feb 10;18:83-94. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2011.00120.

In vivo topoisomerase I inhibition attenuates the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α target genes and decreases tumor angiogenesis.

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EA 4438 Physiopathologie et Médecine Translationnelle, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France.


Topoisomerase I is a privileged target for widely used anticancer agents such as irinotecan. Although these drugs are classically considered to be DNA-damaging agents, increasing evidence suggests that they might also influence the tumor environment. This study evaluates in vivo cellular and molecular modifications induced by irinotecan, a topoisomerase I-directed agent, in patient-derived colon tumors subcutaneously implanted in athymic nude mice. Irinotecan was given intraperitoneally at 40 mg/kg five times every 5 d, and expression profiles were evaluated at d 25 in tumors from treated and untreated animals. Unexpectedly, the in vivo antitumor activity of irinotecan was closely linked to a downregulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1A) target genes along with an inhibition of HIF1A protein accumulation. The consequence was a decrease in tumor angiogenesis leading to tumor size stabilization. These results highlight the molecular basis for the antitumor activity of a widely used anticancer agent, and the method used opens the way for mechanistic studies of the in vivo activity of other anticancer therapies.

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