Antiangiogenic therapy of cerebral melanoma metastases results in sustained tumor progression via vessel co-option.
Leenders WPJ., Küsters B., Verrijp K., Maass C., Wesseling P., Heerschap A., Ruiter D., Ryan A., de Waal R.
PURPOSE: In the brain, tumors may grow without inducing angiogenesis, via co-option of the dense pre-existent capillary bed. The purpose of this study was to investigate how this phenomenon influences the outcome of antiangiogenic therapy. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Mice carrying brain metastases of the human, highly angiogenic melanoma cell line Mel57-VEGF-A were either or not treated with different dosages of ZD6474, a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor with additional activity against epidermal growth factor receptor. Effect of treatment was evaluated using contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (CE- MRI) and (immuno)morphologic analysis. RESULTS: Placebo-treated Mel57-VEGF-A brain metastases evoked an angiogenic response and were highlighted in CE-MRI. After treatment with ZD6474 (100 mg/kg), CE-MRI failed to detect tumors in either prevention or therapeutic treatment regimens. However, (immuno)histologic analysis revealed the presence of numerous, small, nonangiogenic lesions. Treatment with 25 mg/kg ZD6474 also resulted in efficient blockade of vessel formation, but it did not fully inhibit vascular leakage, thereby still allowing visualization in CE-MRI scans. CONCLUSIONS: Our data show that, although angiogenesis can be effectively blocked by ZD6474, in vessel-dense organs this may result in sustained tumor progression via co-option, rather than in tumor dormancy. Importantly, blocking VEGF-A may result in undetectability of tumors in CE-MRI scans, leading to erroneous conclusions about therapeutic efficacy during magnetic resonance imaging follow-up. The maintenance of VEGF-A-induced vessel leakage in the absence of neovascularization at lower ZD6474 doses may be exploited to improve delivery of chemotherapeutic agents in combined treatment regimens of antiangiogenic and chemotherapeutic compounds.