Targeted anti-vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 therapy leads to short-term and long-term impairment of vascular function and increase in tumor hypoxia.

Marcela Franco, Shan Man, Limor Chen, Urban Emmenegger, Yuval Shaked, Alison M Cheung, Allison S Brown, Daniel J Hicklin, F Stuart Foster, Robert S Kerbel
Cancer research2006
Because antiangiogenic therapies inhibit the growth of new tumor-associated blood vessels, as well as prune newly formed vasculature, they would be expected to reduce the supply of oxygen and thus increase tumor hypoxia. However, it is not clear if antiangiogenic treatments lead only to consistent and sustained increases in hypoxia, or transient decreases in tumor hypoxia along with periods of increased hypoxia. We undertook a detailed analysis of an orthotopically transplanted human breast carcinoma (MDA-MB-231) over a 3-week treatment period using DC101, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 antibody. We observed consistent reductions in microvascular density, blood flow (measured by high-frequency micro-ultrasound), and perfusion. These effects resulted in an increase in the hypoxic tumor fraction, measured with an exogenous marker, pimonidazole, concurrent with an elevation in hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha expression, an endogenous marker. The increase in tumor hypoxia was evident within 5 days and remained so throughout the entire course of treatment. Vascular perfusion and flow were impaired at days 2, 5, 7, 8, 14, and 21 after the first injection, but not at 4 hours. A modest increase in the vessel maturation index was detected after the 3-week treatment period, but this was not accompanied by an improvement in vascular function. These results suggest that sustained hypoxia and impairment of vascular function can be two consistent consequences of antiangiogenic drug treatment. The implications of the results are discussed, particularly with respect to how they relate to different theories for the counterintuitive chemosensitizing effects of antiangiogenic drugs, even when hypoxia is increased.

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