Here we evaluated the antitumor efficacy of vincristine (VCR) encapsulated in sphingomyelin/cholesterol liposomes (SM/Chol) on drug-resistant human solid tumors. We firstly used the M14 human melanoma line and the counterpart resistant derivative, M14/R. The M14/R, selected after doxorubicin exposure, was cross resistant to VCR: the in vitro treatment with free VCR reduced the survival of M14, while M14/R line was completely resistant to VCR. Encapsulation in liposomes improved the efficacy of VCR in M14 cells and sensitized the M14/R line to the drug. Experiments in vivo confirmed these results. The treatment of M14 bearing mice with VCR resulted in marked reduction of tumor growth, while no antitumoral effect was observed in M14/R tumors. The administration of VCR encapsulated in liposomes was able to sensitize M14/R tumors to the drug, the antitumoral effect being comparable to that observed in M14 tumors after the same treatment. By injecting animals with the same dose of liposomal VCR fractionated into 3 daily injections and administering repeated cycles of treatment, to a marked improvement of the antitumor activity of liposomal VCR was observed. TUNEL assay in tumor sections indicated that the improved efficacy of liposomal VCR was related to the induction of massive necrosis and apoptosis. To confirm the efficacy of liposomal VCR on drug-resistant tumors, MCF7 breast and LoVo colon carcinomas, sensitive and resistant to VCR treatment, were also employed. The results showed that the treatment with liposomal VCR of mice bearing breast or colon resistant tumors reduced the tumor mass and delayed the tumor regrowth to the same extent observed in the sensitive counterpart. Together, these results demonstrate the ability of VCR encapsulated in liposomes in sensitizing drug resistant tumors of different histotypes.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.