European Journal of Cancer vol:36 issue:14 pages:1833-1843
Tumour-specific vascularisation may be therapeutically approached in two different ways: by antiangiogenic treatments specifically directed to dividing and migrating endothelial cells, or by agents that target principally the inadequate and ill-structured tumour vasculature. Combretastatin A-4 phosphate (combreAp), a recently synthesised prodrug (OXiGENE, Lund, Sweden), is a vascular targeting agent of the latter kind. We evaluated the effect of a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) combreAp injection on the growth of rhabdomyosarcomas syngeneic in WAG/Rij rats. Different tumour volume groups, ranging between 0.1 and 27 cm(3), were selected to assess the relationship between the size at treatment time and the response to combreAp. A double combreAp treatment (2x25 mg/kg) was investigated within the same overall aim: the relationship between growth delay and tumour size. Our results show that the systemic administration of combreAp induces a clear-cut differential growth delay in the solid rat rhabdomyosarcomas: with very large tumours (>/= 14 cm(3)), a 17.6-fold stronger effect was measured than with very small tumours (<1 cm(3)). This is the 'inverse' of the volume-response seen with the conventional therapeutic approaches (radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery). These combreAp antitumour responses were observed without treatment limiting systemic toxicity in the rats. With clinical digital subtraction angiography, using microsurgical cannulation of a major tumour draining vessel, and with histopathology, we demonstrate that growth delay is related to an early (within 3-6 h) and extensive breakdown of tumour blood vessels. The experiments involving a second injection also indicate a volume-dependent effect of combreAp in reducing the regrowth rate of small or large rhabdomyosarcomas. This significant differential volume-response obtained with 'selective' vascular targeting, stronger in larger tumours than smaller ones, suggests the potential of broadening the therapeutic window.