Irradiation-induced angiosarcoma and anti-angiogenic therapy: A therapeutic hope?

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Angiosarcomas are rare soft-tissue sarcomas of endothelial cell origin. They can be sporadic or caused by therapeutic radiation, hence secondary breast angiosarcomas are an important subgroup of patients. Assessing the molecular biology of angiosarcomas and identify specific targets for treatment is challenging. There is currently great interest in the role of angiogenesis and of angiogenic factors associated with tumor pathogenesis and as targets for treatment of angiosarcomas. A primary cell line derived from a skin fragment of a irradiation-induced angiosarcoma patient was obtained and utilized to evaluate cell biomarkers CD31, CD34, HIF-1alpha and VEGFRs expression by immunocytochemistry and immunofluorescence, drugs cytotoxicity by cell counting and VEGF release by ELISA immunoassay. In addition to previous biomarkers, FVIII and VEGF were also evaluated on tumor specimens by immunohistochemistry to further confirm the diagnosis. We targeted the VEGF-VEGFR-2 axis of tumor angiogenesis with two different class of vascular targeted drugs; caprelsa, the VEGFR-2/EGFR/RET inhibitor and bevacizumab the anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody. We found the same biomarkers expression either in tumor specimens and in the cell line derived from tumor. In vitro experiments demonstrated that angiogenesis plays a pivotal role in the progression of this tumor as cells displayed high level of VEGFR-2, HIF-1 alpha strongly accumulated into the nucleus and the pro-angiogenic factor VEGF was released by cells in culture medium. The evaluation of caprelsa and bevacizumab cytotoxicity demonstrated that both drugs were effective in inhibiting tumor proliferation. Due to these results, we started to treat the patient with pazopanib, which was the unique tyrosine kinase inhibitor available in Italy through a compassionate supply program, obtaining a long lasting partial response. Our data suggest that the study of the primary cell line could help physicians in choosing a therapeutic approach for patient that almost in vitro shows chances of success and that the anti-angiogenetic agents are a reliable therapeutic opportunity for angiosarcomas patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2014


  • Angiosarcoma
  • Bevacizumab
  • Caprelsa
  • Citotoxicity
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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