Low-dose metronomic oral dosing of a prodrug of gemcitabine (LY2334737) causes antitumor effects in the absence of inhibition of systemic vasculogenesis.

Giulio, Francia, Yuval, Shaked, Kae, Hashimoto, John, Sun, Melissa, Yin, Carolyn, Cesta, Ping, Xu, Shan, Man, Christina, Hackl, Julie, Stewart, Mark, Uhlik, Anne H, Dantzig, F Stuart, Foster, Robert S, Kerbel

Molecular cancer therapeutics |

Metronomic chemotherapy refers to the close, regular administration of conventional chemotherapy drugs at relatively low, minimally toxic doses, with no prolonged break periods; it is now showing encouraging results in various phase II clinical trials and is currently undergoing phase III trial evaluation. It is thought to cause antitumor effects primarily by antiangiogenic mechanisms, both locally by targeting endothelial cells of the tumor neovasculature and systemically by effects on bone marrow-derived cells, including circulating endothelial progenitor cells (CEP). Previous studies have shown reduction of CEPs by metronomic administration of a number of different chemotherapeutic drugs, including vinblastine, cyclophosphamide, paclitaxel, topotecan, and tegafur plus uracil (UFT). However in addition to, or even instead of, antiangiogenic effects, metronomic chemotherapy may cause suppression of tumor growth by other mechanisms such as stimulating cytotoxic T-cell responses or by direct antitumor effects. Here we report results evaluating the properties of metronomic administration of an oral prodrug of gemcitabine LY2334737 in nontumor-bearing mice and in preclinical models of human ovarian (SKOV3-13) and breast cancer (LM2-4) xenografts. Through daily gavage (at 6 mg/kg/d), the schedules tested were devoid of toxicity and caused antitumor effects; however, a suppressive effect on CEPs was not detected. Unexpectedly, metronomic LY2334737 administration caused increased blood flow in luciferase-tagged LM2-4 tumor xenografts, and this effect, readily measured using contrast micro-ultrasound, coincided with a relative increase in tumor bioluminescence. These results highlight the possibility of significant antitumor effects mediated by metronomic administration of some chemotherapy drugs without a concomitant inhibition of systemic angiogenesis.