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Keywords:

  • angiogenesis inhibitors;
  • axitinib, bevacizumab;
  • combination therapy;
  • endothelial cells;
  • photodynamic therapy;
  • sorafenib;
  • sunitinib;
  • synergy;
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitors

Abstract

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective clinical treatment for a number of different cancers. PDT can induce hypoxia and inflammation, pro-angiogenic side effects, which may counteract its angio-occlusive mechanism. The combination of PDT with anti-angiogenic drugs offers a possibility for improved anti-tumour outcome. We used two tumour models to test the effects of the clinically approved angiostatic tyrosine kinase inhibitors sunitinib, sorafenib and axitinib in combination with PDT, and compared these results with the effects of bevacizumab, the anti-VEGF antibody, for the improvement of PDT. Best results were obtained from the combination of PDT and low-dose axitinib or sorafenib. Molecular analysis by PCR revealed that PDT in combination with axitinib suppressed VEGFR-2 expression in tumour vasculature. Treatment with bevacizumab, although effective as monotherapy, did not improve PDT outcome. In order to test for tumour vessel normalization effects, axitinib was also applied prior to PDT. The absence of improved PDT outcome in these experiments, as well as the lack of increased oxygenation in axitinib-treated tumours, suggests that vascular normalization did not occur. The current data imply that there is a future for certain anti-angiogenic agents to further improve the efficacy of photodynamic anti-cancer therapy.