Metronomic cyclophosphamide treatment is associated with anti-angiogenic activity and is anticipated to generate exploitable hypoxia using hypoxia-activated prodrugs. Weekly administration of tirapazamine (TPZ; 5 mg/kg body weight i.p.) failed to inhibit the growth of 9L gliosarcoma tumors grown s.c. in scid mice. However, the anti-tumor effect of weekly cyclophosphamide (CPA) treatment (140 mg/kg BW i.p.) was substantially enhanced by weekly TPZ administration. An extended tumor free period and increased frequency of tumor eradication without overt toxicity were observed when TPZ was given 3, 4 or 5 days after each weekly CPA treatment. Following the 2nd CPA injection, Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Oximetry indicated significant increases in tumor pO2, starting at 48 hr, which further increased after the 3rd CPA injection. pO2 levels were, however, stable in growing untreated tumors. A strong negative correlation (-0.81) between tumor pO2 and tumor volume during 21 days of weekly CPA chemotherapy was observed, indicating increasing tumor pO2 with decreasing tumor volume. Furthermore, CPA treatment resulted in increased tumor uptake of activated CPA. CPA induced increases in VEGF RNA, which reached a maximum on day 1, and in PLGF RNA which was sustained throughout the treatment, while anti-angiogenic host thrombospondin-1 increased dramatically through day 7 post-CPA treatment. Weekly cyclophosphamide treatment was anticipated to generate exploitable hypoxia. However, our findings suggest that weekly CPA treatment induces a functional improvement of tumor vasculature, which is characterized by increased tumor oxygenation and drug uptake in tumors, thus counter-intuitively, benefiting intratumoral activation of TPZ and perhaps other bioreductive drugs.
Anti-angiogenic chemotherapy, Tirapazamine, cyclophosphamide, tumor, pO2, EPR oximetry
Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA.