Evaluation of antitumoral properties of the protease inhibitor indinavir in a murine model of hepatocarcinoma

Vincenzo Esposito, Emanuele Palescandolo, Enrico P. Spugnini, Vincenzo Montesarchio, Antonio De Luca, Irene Cardillo, Giancarlo Cortese, Alfonso Baldi, Antonio Chirianni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Accumulating evidences show a higher incidence of hepatic neoplasm in HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV) - coinfected individuals compared with HCV-monoinfected patients. Treatment with HIV-1 protease inhibitors inhibited cancer-promoted angiogenesis in HIV-infected patients affected by Kaposi sarcoma. We aimed to evaluate the antineoplastic potential activities of the protease inhibitor indinavir (Crixivan) in in vitro and in vivo hepatocarcinoma models. Experimental Design: We analyzed effects of indinavir on cell growth and invasiveness in Huh7 and SK-HEP-1 hepatocarcinoma cell lines and on in vivo tumor growth of the same cells in nude mice. Morphologic and molecular analyses on explanted tumors were carried out to evaluate vascularization and apoptosis. Results: We observed a reduced ability to invade an in vitro extracellular matrix for both cell lines treated with indinavir compared with controls (P = 0,001). Moreover, indinavir treatment was able to inhibit matrix metalloproteinase-2 proteolytic activation, whereas there was no effect on cell proliferation. The drug was also able to delay in vivo tumor growth. The inhibition of tumor growth was statistically significant from days 6 to 21 (P = 0.004 and P = 0.003, respectively). Moreover, the drug showed antiangiogenic and proapoptotic actions, as revealed by vessel count and apoptotic index by terminal deoxynucleotide transferase - mediated nick end labeling in explanted tumors. Finally, treatment with indinavir did not block the production of vascular endothelial growth factor in the tumors. Conclusion: Indinavir could be helpful to prevent the development of hepatocarcinomas in HIV/HCV - coinfected individuals. In view of the current trend to substitute protease inhibitors with other antiretroviral agents, this information may have clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2634-2639
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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