Inhibition of angiogenesis-driven Kaposi's sarcoma tumor growth in nude mice by oral N-acetylcysteine

A. Albini, M. Morini, F. D'Agostini, N. Ferrari, F. Campelli, G. Arena, D. M. Noonan, C. Pesce, S. De Flora

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The thiol N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), an analogue and precursor of reduced glutathione, has cancer chemopreventive properties attributable to its nucleophilicity, antioxidant activity, and a variety of other mechanisms. We demonstrated recently that NAC has anti-invasive, antimetastatic, and antiangiogenic effects in in vitro and in vivo test systems. In the present study, s.c. transplantation of KS-1mm cells in (CD-1)BR nude mice resulted in the local growth of Kaposi's sarcoma, a highly vascularized human tumor. The daily administration of NAC with drinking water, initiated after the tumor mass had become established and detectable, produced a sharp inhibition of tumor growth, with regression of tumors in half of the treated mice along with a markedly prolonged median survival time. The production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and certain proliferation markers (proliferating cell nuclear antigen and Ki-67) were significantly lower in Kaposi's sarcomas from NAC-treated mice than from control mice. Treatment of KS-1mm cells with NAC in vitro resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of chemotaxis and invasion through inhibition of gelatinase-A (matrix metalloproteinase-2, MMP-2) activity without altering MMP-2 or MMP-9 mRNA levels. NAC also significantly inhibited VEGF production but did not affect proliferation markers in vitro. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis indicated that total VEGF mRNAs were reduced by 10 mM NAC. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that NAC, the safety of which even at high doses has been established in almost 40 years of clinical use, in addition to its chemopreventive action, has a strong antiangiogenic potential that could be exploited for preventing cancer progression as well as used in cancer adjuvant therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8171-8178
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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