Purpose: The formation of new blood vessels from the pre-existing vasculature is necessary for support of primary tumor growth and appears coincident with the development of metastasis. In previous studies, inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent angiogenic factor and mediator of vascular permeability, inhibited tumor neovascularization with consequent inhibition of both primary tumor growth and micrometastases when administered at the time of tumor inoculation. In the present study, we examined the effect of inhibiting VEGF on primary tumor growth and metastases in an in vivo model of established metastatic prostate cancer.
Materials and methods: The human prostate cancer cell line DU-145 was found to secrete VEGF. DU-145.luciferase, a subclone stably transfected with an expression vector encoding the luciferase gene, injected subcutaneously, consistently formed tumors in C.B.-17 scid/scid mice. After 6 weeks, assay of whole lung lysates showed significant luciferase activity, consistent with the presence of micrometastasis.
Results: Twice weekly treatment of the animals with a monoclonal anti-VEGF neutralizing antibody, A4.6.1, not only suppressed primary tumor growth, but inhibited metastatic dissemination to the lung. When treatment was delayed until the primary tumors were well-established, further growth was still inhibited, as was the progression of metastatic disease.
Conclusion: Inhibition of tumor-secreted VEGF by a neutralizing antibody is sufficient to significantly impair prostate tumor growth and its subsequent metastasis in an in vivo model of established advanced prostate cancer. These data suggest a critical role for VEGF in initiation and maintenance of tumor angiogenesis in prostate cancer. Inhibition of VEGF in patients with VEGF-secreting prostate cancers may prove an effective approach for inhibiting disease progression even after micro-metastatic dissemination has occurred.