Purpose: Targeting the tumor vasculature by vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) has shown therapeutic activity in mouse models. In most cases, however, VDA efficacy is substantially compromised by the inability of these drugs to completely kill tumor cells located at the periphery of the tumor mass. In this study, we investigated anti-tumor effects of L19mTNFα, a fusion protein composed of L19 (scFv), specific for the angiogenesis-associated ED-B containing fibronectin isoform, and murine TNFa, in xenograft models of esophageal cancer. Experimental design: We evaluated ED-B expression in esophageal cancer samples. Subsequently, we generated subcutaneous xenografts from primary tumors, treated them with the L19mTNFα scFv, and determined effects on tumor vasculature, viability and proliferation, and VEGF expression and infiltration by hematopoietic cells. To overcome tumor resistance, L19mTNFα scFv was combined with vandetanib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor, and RET signaling. Results: ED-B was broadly expressed by esophageal cancer cell lines, as well as xenografts and primary surgical samples of esophageal cancer. Administration of L19mTNFα acutely damaged tumor vasculature and increased necrosis, indicating a VDA-like activity of this immunoconjugate. This event was followed, however, by rapid tumor growth recovery associated with increased expression of VEGF and recruitment of CD11b+Gr1+ myeloid cells into tumors. Combination of L19mTNFα with vandetanib severely impaired vascular functions in tumors, leading to a reduction of cell proliferation and increased necrosis, without apparent signs of toxicity. Conclusion: These findings indicate that a combination of vascular damaging agents with antiangiogenic drugs could represent a promising therapeutic strategy for esophageal cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research