Antiangiogenic versus cytotoxic therapeutic approaches to human pancreas cancer: an experimental study with a vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor and gemcitabine

Eur J Pharmacol. 2004 Sep 13;498(1-3):9-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2004.07.062.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States and represents a challenging chemotherapeutic problem. The pharmacological control of angiogenesis might represent a novel approach to the management of pancreas cancer, since the pathological development of vascular supply is a critical step for tumor growth and may affect its prognosis. In order to test this hypothesis, SU5416 ([3-(3,5-dimethyl-1H-pyrrol-2-ylmethylene)-1,3-dihydro-indol-2-one]) a selective inhibitor of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 tyrosine kinase, and gemcitabine (2', 2'-difluorodeoxycytidine) were tested on endothelial (HUVEC) and pancreatic tumor cells (MIA PaCa-2) in vitro and in vivo alone and in simultaneous association. SU5416 inhibited HUVEC cells stimulated to proliferate by vascular endothelial growth factor but not MIA PaCa-2 cells; the drug concentration that decreased cell growth by 50% (IC50) was 0.14 microM. Furthermore, SU5416 reduced the development of microvessels from placental explants (IC50, 0.23 microM). Gemcitabine inhibited the growth of both HUVEC and MIA PaCa-2 cells with an IC50 of 0.08 and 0.1 microM, respectively. A synergistic effect (combination index <1 and dose reduction index >1) on anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activity was calculated with the simultaneous combination of the two drugs on endothelial cells. A marked in vivo antitumor effect on MIA PaCa-2 xenografts was observed with SU5416 at a protracted schedules, as well as with gemcitabine; furthermore, the combination between the two drugs resulted in an almost complete suppression of tumor growth and relapse. In conclusion, the present results provide the evidence of an effective anti-endothelial/antitumor activity of protracted administration of SU5416 on human pancreas cancer xenografts, which is comparable with the one obtained by gemcitabine; moreover, the synergistic combination between these drugs on endothelial cells and the promising association in pancreatic cancer xenografts could be used in future studies and translated into the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Indoles / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Placenta / blood supply
  • Placenta / drug effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 / metabolism
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Indoles
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyrroles
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Semaxinib
  • gemcitabine
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2