Evaluation of poly-mechanistic antiangiogenic combinations to enhance cytotoxic therapy response in pancreatic cancer

Niranjan Awasthi, Changhua Zhang, Winston Ruan, Margaret A Schwarz, Roderich E Schwarz
PloS One 2012, 7 (6): e38477
Gemcitabine (Gem) has limited clinical benefits in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The present study investigated combinations of gemcitabine with antiangiogenic agents of various mechanisms for PDAC, including bevacizumab (Bev), sunitinib (Su) and EMAP II. Cell proliferation and protein expression were analyzed by WST-1 assay and Western blotting. In vivo experiments were performed via murine xenografts. Inhibition of in vitro proliferation of AsPC-1 PDAC cells by gemcitabine (10 µM), bevacizumab (1 mg/ml), sunitinib (10 µM) and EMAP (10 µM) was 35, 22, 81 and 6 percent; combination of gemcitabine with bevacizumab, sunitinib or EMAP had no additive effects. In endothelial HUVECs, gemcitabine, bevacizumab, sunitinib and EMAP caused 70, 41, 86 and 67 percent inhibition, while combination of gemcitabine with bevacizumab, sunitinib or EMAP had additive effects. In WI-38 fibroblasts, gemcitabine, bevacizumab, sunitinib and EMAP caused 79, 58, 80 and 29 percent inhibition, with additive effects in combination as well. Net in vivo tumor growth inhibition in gemcitabine, bevacizumab, sunitinib and EMAP monotherapy was 43, 38, 94 and 46 percent; dual combinations of Gem+Bev, Gem+Su and Gem+EMAP led to 69, 99 and 64 percent inhibition. Combinations of more than one antiangiogenic agent with gemcitabine were generally more effective but not superior to Gem+Su. Intratumoral proliferation, apoptosis and microvessel density findings correlated with tumor growth inhibition data. Median animal survival was increased by gemcitabine (26 days) but not by bevacizumab, sunitinib or EMAP monotherapy compared to controls (19 days). Gemcitabine combinations with bevacizumab, sunitinib or EMAP improved survival to similar extent (36 or 37 days). Combinations of gemcitabine with Bev+EMAP (43 days) or with Bev+Su+EMAP (46 days) led to the maximum survival benefit observed. Combination of antiangiogenic agents improves gemcitabine response, with sunitinib inducing the strongest effect. These findings demonstrate advantages of combining multi-targeting agents with standard gemcitabine therapy for PDAC.

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