Purpose: Recent results in the literature have demonstrated that the antiangiogenic agent endostatin can enhance antitumor effects when administered before or during radiotherapy. To better understand the underlying pathophysiologic basis for this radiosensitization, the current study investigated whether short-term endostatin administration is linked to alterations in tumor vascular perfusion and oxygen delivery.
Methods and materials: Three daily doses of recombinant endostatin (20 mg/kg) were administered to two murine mammary carcinomas, the highly vascularized MCa-35 and the less vascularized MCa-4. Image analysis techniques were used to quantify (1) total and perfused vascular spacing, and (2) changes in tumor hypoxia as a function of distance from the nearest blood vessel.
Results: In MCa-35 tumors, endostatin had no effect on vessel spacing, tumor hypoxia, or tumor growth. In MCa-4 tumors, total and perfused vessel spacings were also unchanged, but tumor growth was inhibited, and tumor hypoxia significantly decreased. These tumors demonstrated an increased vascular functionality suggestive of an increase in the number of intermittently perfused vessels, without corresponding alterations in tumor oxygen consumption rate.
Conclusions: Poorly vascularized, hypoxic mammary carcinomas were much more responsive to short-term endostatin treatment than well-vascularized, more homogeneously oxygenated tumors. Oxygen levels in the responsive tumors were transiently improved after treatment, which could have substantial implications with respect to the therapeutic effectiveness of combining antiangiogenic agents with conventional therapies.