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Abstract Background Tumour hypoxia promotes an aggressive tumour phenotype and enhances resistance to anticancer treatments. Following the recent observation that the mitochondrial inhibitor atovaquone increases tumour oxygenation in NSCLC, we sought to assess whether atovaquone affects tumour subregions differently depending on their level of hypoxia. Methods Patients with resectable NSCLC participated in the ATOM trial (NCT02628080). Cohort 1 (n = 15) received atovaquone treatment, whilst cohort 2 (n = 15) did not. Hypoxia-related metrics, including change in mean tumour-to-blood ratio, tumour hypoxic volume, and fraction of hypoxic voxels, were assessed using hypoxia PET imaging. Tumours were divided into four subregions or distance categories: edge, outer, inner, and centre, using MATLAB. Results Atovaquone-induced reduction in tumour hypoxia mostly occurred in the inner and outer tumour subregions, and to a lesser extent in the centre subregion. Atovaquone did not seem to act in the edge subregion, which was the only tumour subregion that was non-hypoxic at baseline. Notably, the most intensely hypoxic tumour voxels, and therefore the most radiobiologically resistant areas, were subject to the most pronounced decrease in hypoxia in the different subregions. Conclusions This study provides insights into the action of atovaquone in tumour subregions that help to better understand its role as a novel tumour radiosensitiser. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT0262808. Registered 11th December 2015, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02628080

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s13550-021-00871-x

Type

Journal article

Journal

EJNMMI Research

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date

12/2021

Volume

11