Clinical outcome and tumour microenvironmental effects of accelerated radiotherapy with carbogen and nicotinamide

Acta Oncol. 1999;38(7):875-82. doi: 10.1080/028418699432563.


Experimental studies have shown an almost 2-fold increase in effectiveness if accelerated radiotherapy combined with carbogen and nicotinamide (ARCON) was compared with standard radiotherapy. This combination was chosen in order to overcome repopulation of clonogens during radiotherapy and to minimize tumour hypoxia. Analysis of microenvironmental parameters is required to identify tumours that can benefit from these new treatment approaches. In this study 124 patients with stage III or IV head and neck squamous cell carcinomas received ARCON treatment. Vascular architecture, perfusion, proliferation and oxygenation were studied in two human laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma xenograft lines and the effects of carbogen and nicotinamide were analysed. Loco-regional control for stage III-IV larynx carcinomas was 85%, for hypopharynx carcinomas 50% and for oral cavity and oropharynx carcinomas 65%. In the experimental studies, carbogen treatment resulted in one tumour line in a decrease of blood perfusion, which was reversed if nicotinamide was added. The other tumour line showed no perfusion changes after carbogen or nicotinamide treatment. Both tumour lines showed a drastic reduction of hypoxia after carbogen breathing only or carbogen breathing plus nicotinamide. The ARCON schedule results in high loco-regional tumour control rates. Analysis of tumour microenvironmental parameters showed differences in response to carbogen and nicotinamide between different tumour lines of similar histology and site of origin. This indicates that it may be advantageous to base the selection of patients for oxygenation modifying treatment on microenvironmental tumour characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Niacinamide / therapeutic use*
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Niacinamide
  • carbogen
  • Oxygen