Nilotinib Enhances Tumor Angiogenesis and Counteracts VEGFR2 Blockade in an Orthotopic Breast Cancer Xenograft Model with Desmoplastic Response

Sara Zafarnia, Jessica Bzyl-Ibach, Igor Spivak, Yongping Li, Susanne Koletnik, Dennis Doleschel, Anne Rix, Sibylle Pochon, Isabelle Tardy, Seena Koyadan, Marc van Zandvoort, Moritz Palmowski, Fabian Kiessling, Wiltrud Lederle*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-targeted therapies predominantly affect nascent, immature tumor vessels. Since platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) blockade inhibits vessel maturation and thus increases the amount of immature tumor vessels, we evaluated whether the combined PDGFR inhibition by nilotinib and VEGFR2 blockade by DC101 has synergistic therapy effects in a desmoplastic breast cancer xenograft model. In this context, besides immunohistological evaluation, molecular ultrasound imaging with BR55, the clinically used VEGFR2-targeted microbubbles, was applied to monitor VEGFR2-positive vessels noninvasively and to assess the therapy effects on tumor angiogenesis. DC101 treatment alone inhibited tumor angiogenesis, resulting in lower tumor growth and in significantly lower vessel density than in the control group after 14 days of therapy. In contrast, nilotinib inhibited vessel maturation but enhanced VEGFR2 expression, leading to markedly increased tumor volumes and a significantly higher vessel density. The combination of both drugs led to an almost similar tumor growth as in the DC101 treatment group, but VEGFR2 expression and microvessel density were higher and comparable to the controls. Further analyses revealed significantly higher levels of tumor cell-derived VEGF in nilotinib-treated tumors. In line with this, nilotinib, especially in low doses, induced an upregulation of VEGF and IL-6mRNA in the tumor cells in vitro, thus providing an explanation for the enhanced angiogenesis observed in nilotinib-treated tumors in vivo. These findings suggest that nilotinib inhibits vessel maturation but counteracts the effects of antiangiogenic co-therapy by enhancing VEGF expression by the tumor cells and stimulating tumor angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-907
Number of pages12
JournalNeoplasia (Online)
Volume19
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Keywords

  • ENDOTHELIAL GROWTH-FACTOR
  • SQUAMOUS-CELL CARCINOMA
  • VEGFR2-TARGETED MICROBUBBLES
  • PERICYTE COVERAGE
  • CONTRAST AGENT
  • MOLECULAR US
  • PDGF-B
  • THERAPY
  • EXPRESSION
  • METASTASIS

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