Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common and third deadliest primary neoplasm. Since HCC is a particularly vascular solid tumor, we determined the antitumor and antiangiogenic activities of sunitinib malate, a potent inhibitor of two receptors involved in angiogenesis – vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) and plateletderived growth factor receptor (PDGFR). In the present study, we reported that treatment of HepG2 and SK-Hep-1 cells with sunitinib led to growth inhibition and apoptosis in a dose-dependent fashion. Sunitinib inhibited phosphorylation of VEGFR-2 at Tyr951 and PDGFR-β at Tyr1021 both in vitro and in vivo. Sunitinib also suppressed tumor growth of five patient-derived xenografts. Sunitinib-induced tumor growth inhibition was associated with increased apoptosis, reduced microvessel density and inhibition of cell proliferation. This study provides a strong rationale for further clinical investigation of sunitinib in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Keywords: Sunitinib, hepatocellular carcinoma, growth inhibition, anti-angiogenesis
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