Purpose: The aim of the present study was to potentiate the antitumor effectiveness of photodynamic therapy (PDT). A cDNA microarray analysis was used to evaluate the gene expression pattern after Photofrin-mediated PDT to find more effective combination treatment with PDT and inhibitor(s) of the identified gene product(s) overexpressed in tumor cells.
Experimental design: Atlas Mouse Stress Array was used to compare the expression profile of control and PDT-treated C-26 cells. The microarray results have been confirmed using Western blotting. Cytostatic/cytotoxic in vitro assay as well as in vivo tumor models were used to investigate the antitumor effectiveness of PDT in combination with cyclooxygenase (COX) 2 inhibitors.
Results: PDT induced the expression of 5 of 140 stress-related genes. One of these genes encodes for COX-2, an enzyme important in the tumor progression. Inhibition of COX-2 in vitro with NS-398, rofecoxib, or nimesulide, or before PDT with nimesulide did not influence the therapeutic efficacy of the treatment. Administration of a selective COX-2 inhibitor after PDT produced potentiated antitumor effects leading to complete responses in the majority of treated animals.
Conclusions: COX-2 inhibitors do not sensitize tumor cells to PDT-mediated killing. However, these drugs can be used to potentiate the antitumor effectiveness of this treatment regimen when administered after tumor illumination.