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Neoplasia. 2013 Aug;15(8):863-74.

Noninvasive monitoring of pharmacodynamics and kinetics of a death receptor 5 antibody and its enhanced apoptosis induction in sequential application with doxorubicin.

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Pharma Research and Early Development, Discovery Oncology, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Penzberg, Germany.


Induction of apoptosis plays a crucial role in the response of tumors to treatment. Thus, we investigated the pharmacodynamics and tumor saturation kinetics of a death receptor 5 antibody (anti-DR5) when combined with chemotherapeutics. For our investigations, we applied an imaging method that allows monitoring of apoptosis noninvasively in living mice. A stably transfected apoptosis reporter based on split luciferase technology facilitates to screen various chemotherapeutics and anti-DR5 on their ability to induce apoptosis in glioblastoma cells in vitro as well as in vivo. We found that doxorubicin (DOX) treatment in vitro led to significant apoptosis induction within 48 hours and to a 2.3-fold increased anti-DR5 binding to the cell surface. In contrast, cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment altered anti-DR5 binding only marginally. Induction of apoptosis by treatment with anti-DR5 was dose- and time-dependent (both in vitro and in vivo). Simultaneous visualization of fluorescence-labeled anti-DR5 in tumor tissue and apoptosis revealed maximal apoptosis induction immediately after the compound had reached tumor site. Regarding combination therapy of anti-DR5 and DOX, we found that the sequential application of DOX before anti-DR5 resulted in synergistically enhanced apoptosis reporter activity. In striking contrast, anti-DR5 given before DOX did not lead to increased apoptosis induction. We suggest that DOX-induced recruitment of DR5 to the cell surface impacts the enhanced apoptotic effect that can be longitudinally monitored by apoptosis imaging. This study demonstrates that the combination of apoptosis and fluorescence imaging is an excellent method for optimizing dosing and treatment schedules in preclinical cancer models.

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