Albendazole: a potent inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor and malignant ascites formation in OVCAR-3 tumor-bearing nude mice

Mohammad Hossein Pourgholami, Zhao Yan Cai, Ying Lu, Lisa Wang, David Lawson Morris
Clinical Cancer Research 2006 March 15, 12 (6): 1928-35

PURPOSE: Angiogenesis and vessel hyperpermeability are the two factors leading to the formation of ascites. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a pivotal role in malignant ascites formation. We have recently shown that albendazole inhibits peritoneal growth of human colorectal cancer cells (HT-29). The present study was designed to find out if albendazole can suppress ascites formation in ascites-producing peritoneal carcinomatosis.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Female nude mice bearing peritoneal tumors of human ovarian cancer cells (OVCAR-3) were treated with albendazole. Following i.p. inoculation and ascites development, mice were given i.p. albendazole (150 mg/kg) or the vehicle x 3 weekly for 4 weeks.

RESULTS: Whereas vehicle-treated mice developed overt ascites requiring repeated aspiration, ascites formation in the albendazole-treated mice was markedly suppressed. As a result of this, 7 of 10 mice from the control group had to be euthanized before the course of treatment was over. Suppressed ascites production and reduced tumor vascularity observed was a result of dramatic reduction in tumor VEGF production as revealed by profoundly lower VEGF ascites fluid and plasma levels. In vitro, incubation of SKOV-3 cells with various concentrations of albendazole led to significant dose-dependent inhibition of VEGF secretion. Examination of floating tumor cells collected from the peritoneal wash revealed profound down-regulation of VEGF mRNA in albendazole-treated mice.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest for the first time that in nude mice bearing OVCAR-3 peritoneal tumors, by inhibiting VEGF production, albendazole abolishes tumor angiogenesis and ascites formation.

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