• NK012;
  • S-1;
  • diarrhea;
  • drug delivery system;
  • non-small cell lung cancer


The combination therapy of CPT-11, a prodrug of SN-38, with S-1, a dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase inhibitory fluoropyrimidine, shows a high clinical response rate in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, this combination causes severe toxicities such as diarrhea. Here, we investigated the advantages of treatment with the SN-38-incorporating polymeric micelles NK012 over CPT-11 in combination with S-1 in mice bearing a NSCLC xenograft in terms of antitumor activity and toxic effects, particularly intestinal toxicity. In vitro cytotoxic effects were examined in human NSCLC cell lines (A549, PC-9, PC-14, EBC-1 and H520). In vivo antitumor effects were evaluated in PC-14- and EBC-1-bearing mice after NK012 or CPT-11 administration on Days 0 and 7 and S-1 administration on Days 0–13. Pathological changes in the small intestine were also investigated. The in vitro growth inhibitory effects of NK012 were 56.8- to 622-fold more potent than those of CPT-11. NK012/S-1 treatment showed significantly higher antitumor activity both in PC-14-bearing (p = 0.0007) and EBC-1-bearing mice (p < 0.0001) than CPT-11/S-1 treatment. The deformity and decrease in the density of intestinal villi were more severe in CPT-11/S-1-treated mice than in NK012/S-1-treated mice. NK012/S-1 combination is a promising candidate regimen against NSCLC without inducing toxicities such as severe diarrhea and therefore warrants clinical evaluation.