BACKGROUND. Poor penetration and uneven distribution of doxorubicin in tumors limits the efficacy of this drug in patients with prostate cancer (PC). Aim of the study was to investigate whether pre-treatment with NGR-TNF, a tumor necrosis factor-α derivative able to target tumor vessels and alter vessel permeability, increases the penetration and the efficacy of doxorubicin in pre-clinical models of PC. METHODS. Wild type C57BL/6 mice bearing androgen-independent TRAMP-C1 PC and transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) mice, which spontaneously develop PC and metastasis, were treated with repeated cycles of doxorubicin, administered either alone or following NGR-TNF. Tumor growth and drug uptake by cancer cells was evaluated. RESULTS. Doxorubicin as a single agent blocked the growth of TRAMP-C1 cells in vitro but not in vivo. Pre-treatment of mice bearing subcutaneous TRAMP-C1 tumors with NGR-TNF favored doxorubicin penetration into the tumor mass, and in both TRAMP-C1 and TRAMP models significantly delayed tumor growth without increasing drug-related toxicity. CONCLUSIONS. Pre-treatment with NGR-TNF significantly expanded the therapeutic index of doxorubicin in mouse models of hormone-dependent and -independent PC.
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