BACKGROUND: Resistance to microtubule-stabilizing agents is a major hurdle for successful cancer therapy. We investigated combined treatment of microtubule-stabilizing agents (MSAs) with inhibitors of angiogenesis to overcome MSA resistance.
METHODS: Treatment regimens of clinically relevant MSAs (patupilone and paclitaxel) and antiangiogenic agents (everolimus and bevacizumab) were investigated in genetically defined MSA-resistant lung (A549EpoB40) and colon adenocarcinoma (SW480) tumor xenografts in nude mice (CD1-Foxn1<nu>, ICRnu; 5-14 per group). Tumor growth delays were calculated by Kaplan-Meier analysis with Holm-Sidak tests. All statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS: Inhibition of mTOR-kinase by everolimus only minimally reduced the proliferative activity of β tubulin-mutated lung adenocarcinoma cells alone and in combination with the MSA patupilone, but everolimus inhibited expression and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from these cells. mTOR-kinase inhibition strongly sensitized tumor xenografts derived from these otherwise MSA-resistant tumor cells to patupilone. Tumors treated with the combined modality of everolimus and patupilone had statistically significantly reduced tumor volume and stronger tumor growth delay (16.2 ± 1.01 days) than control- (7.7 ± 0.3 days, P = .004), patupilone- (10 ± 0.97 days, P = .009), and everolimus-treated (10.6 ± 1.4 days, P = .014) tumors. A combined treatment modality with bevacizumab also resensitized this MSA-refractory tumor model to patupilone. Treatment combination also strongly reduced microvessel density, corroborating the relevance of VEGF targeting for the known antivasculature-directed potency of MSA alone in MSA-sensitive tumor models. Resensitization to MSAs was also probed in P glycoprotein-overexpressing SW480-derived tumor xenografts. Different bevacizumab regimens also sensitized this otherwise-resistant tumor model to clinically relevant MSA paclitaxel.
CONCLUSIONS: A treatment combination of MSAs with antiangiogenic agents is potent to overcome tumor cell-linked MSA resistance and should be considered as strategy for MSA-refractory tumor entities.