Background: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes that promote tumor invasion and angiogenesis by enzymatically remodeling the extracellular matrix. MMP-2 and MMP-9 are the most abundant forms of MMPs in malignant gliomas, while a 130 kDa MMP is thought to be MMP-9 complexed to other proteinases. This study determined whether doxycycline can block MMP activity in vitro. We also measured MMP-2 and MMP-9 levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with recurrent malignant gliomas.
Methods: To determine whether doxycycline can block MMP activity, we measured the extent of doxycyline-mediated MMP-2 and MMP-9 inhibition in vitro using epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) transfected U251 glioma cell lines. MMP activity was measured using sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) zymography. In addition, patients underwent lumbar puncture for CSF sampling at baseline, after 6 weeks (1 cycle), and after 12 weeks (2 cycles), while being treated with a novel chemotherapy regimen of irinotecan, thalidomide, and doxycycline designed to block growth/proliferation, angiogenesis, and invasion. Irinotecan was given at 125 mg/m2/week for 4 weeks in 6-week cycles, together with continuous doxycycline at 100 mg twice daily on Day 1 and 50 mg twice daily thereafter. Daily thalidomide dose in our cohort was 400 mg. Tumor progression was monitored by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Results: Doxycyline in vitro completely abolished MMP-9 activity at 500 mug/ml while there was only 30 to 50% inhibition of MMP-2 activity. Four patients respectively completed 4, 3, 1, and 2 cycles of irinotecan, thalidomide, and doxycycline. Patient enrollment was terminated after one patient developed radiologically defined pulmonary embolism, and another had probable pulmonary embolism. Although CSF MMP-2 and 130 kDa MMP levels were stable, MMP-9 level progressively increased during treatment despite stable MRI.
Conclusion: Doxycycline can block MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities from glioma cells in vitro. Increased CSF MMP-9 activity could be a biomarker of disease activity in patients with malignant gliomas, before any changes are detectable on MRI.