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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug;100(8):2890-8. doi: 10.1210/JC.2015-2080. Epub 2015 Jun 29.

Lipoprotein-Free Mitotane Exerts High Cytotoxic Activity in Adrenocortical Carcinoma.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale Unité Mixte de Recherche (INSERM UMR)-S 1185 (S.H., J.Y., E.B., M.L.), Le Kremlin-Bicêtre F-94276, France; Department of Nuclear Medicine and Endocrine Oncology (S.H., E.B.) and Department of Pharmacology (A.S., F.C., S.B., A.P., E.B.), Gustave Roussy, Villejuif F-94805, France; INSERM UMR-S Institute of Cardiometabolism and Nutrition/1166, (M.G., T.H.) Pitié-Salpetrière Hospital, Paris, F-75013, France; Department of Endocrinology (J.Y., M.L.), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Bicêtre, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre F-94276, France.



Mitotane (o,p'-DDD), the only approved drug for advanced adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), is a lipophilic agent that accumulates into circulating lipoprotein fractions and high-lipid-containing tissues.


The aim of our study was to evaluate the in vivo and in vitro biological implication of serum lipoproteins on pharmacological action of mitotane. Distribution and concentration of mitotane were studied in plasma and adrenal tissue samples from mitotane-treated patients. The effect of lipoprotein-bound or lipoprotein-free (LP-F) mitotane was analyzed on proliferation and apoptosis of human adrenocortical H295R cells. A retrospective study of patients with ACC treated or not with statins was also performed.


o,p'-DDD distribution among very low-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and LP-F fractions obtained after plasma ultracentrifugation of 23 of mitotane-treated patients was widely distributed in each subfraction. A positive correlation was observed between mitotane levels in plasma and in LDL, HDL, but also LP-F compartment. Intratumor o,p'-DDD concentrations in five ACC samples of mitotane-treated patients were found to be independent of cholesterol transporter expression, scavenger receptors, and LDL receptors. In vitro studies showed significant higher antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects and higher cell and mitochondrial uptake of mitotane when H295R cells were grown in LP-F medium. Finally, retrospective study of an ACC cohort of 26 mitotane-treated patients revealed that statin therapy was significantly associated with a higher rate of tumor control.


Altogether, our in vitro and in vivo studies provided compelling evidence for a greater efficacy of LP-F mitotane. Patients with ACC may thus benefit from therapeutic strategies that aim to increase LP-F mitotane fraction.

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