Increased tumor oxygenation and drug uptake during anti-angiogenic weekly low dose cyclophosphamide enhances the anti-tumor effect of weekly tirapazamine

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2009 Sep;9(6):777-88. doi: 10.2174/156800909789271503.


Metronomic cyclophosphamide treatment is associated with anti-angiogenic activity and is anticipated to generate exploitable hypoxia using hypoxia-activated prodrugs. Weekly administration of tirapazamine (TPZ; 5 mg/kg body weight i.p.) failed to inhibit the growth of 9L gliosarcoma tumors grown s.c. in scid mice. However, the anti-tumor effect of weekly cyclophosphamide (CPA) treatment (140 mg/kg BW i.p.) was substantially enhanced by weekly TPZ administration. An extended tumor free period and increased frequency of tumor eradication without overt toxicity were observed when TPZ was given 3, 4 or 5 days after each weekly CPA treatment. Following the 2(nd) CPA injection, Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Oximetry indicated significant increases in tumor pO(2), starting at 48 hr, which further increased after the 3(rd) CPA injection. pO(2) levels were, however, stable in growing untreated tumors. A strong negative correlation (-0.81) between tumor pO(2) and tumor volume during 21 days of weekly CPA chemotherapy was observed, indicating increasing tumor pO(2) with decreasing tumor volume. Furthermore, CPA treatment resulted in increased tumor uptake of activated CPA. CPA induced increases in VEGF RNA, which reached a maximum on day 1, and in PLGF RNA which was sustained throughout the treatment, while anti-angiogenic host thrombospondin-1 increased dramatically through day 7 post-CPA treatment. Weekly cyclophosphamide treatment was anticipated to generate exploitable hypoxia. However, our findings suggest that weekly CPA treatment induces a functional improvement of tumor vasculature, which is characterized by increased tumor oxygenation and drug uptake in tumors, thus counter-intuitively, benefiting intratumoral activation of TPZ and perhaps other bioreductive drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / metabolism
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage*
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacokinetics
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / chemically induced
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Tirapazamine
  • Triazines / administration & dosage*
  • Triazines / pharmacology
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Triazines
  • Tirapazamine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase
  • Oxygen