PG545, a heparan sulfate mimetic, reduces heparanase expression in vivo, blocks spontaneous metastases and enhances overall survival in the 4T1 breast carcinoma model

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052175. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


PG545 is a clinically relevant heparan sulfate (HS) mimetic which, in addition to possessing anti-angiogenic properties, also acts as a heparanase inhibitor which may differentiate its mechanism(s) of action from approved angiogenesis inhibitors. The degradation of HS by heparanase has been strongly implicated in cell dissemination and the metastatic process. Thus, the anti-metastatic activity of PG545 has been linked to the enzymatic function of heparanase - the only endoglycosidase known to cleave HS, an important component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) which represents a potential avenue for therapeutic intervention for certain metastatic cancer indications. Recent concerns raised about the paucity of overall survival as an endpoint in mouse models of clinically relevant metastasis led us to examine the effect of PG545 on the progression of both primary tumor growth and the spontaneously metastasizing disease in the 4T1 syngeneic breast carcinoma model in a non-surgical and surgical (mastectomy) setting. PG545 significantly inhibited primary tumor growth but importantly also inhibited lung metastasis in treated mice, an effect not observed with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sorafenib. Importantly, PG545 significantly enhanced overall survival compared to vehicle control and the sorafenib group, suggesting PG545's inhibitory effect on heparanase is indeed a critical attribute to induce anti-metastatic activity. In addition to blocking a common angiogenic signalling pathway in tumor cells, the expression of heparanase in the primary tumor and lung was also significantly reduced by PG545 treatment. These results support the ongoing development of PG545 and highlight the potential utility in metastatic disease settings.

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Glucuronidase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / mortality*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Niacinamide / pharmacology
  • Phenylurea Compounds / pharmacology
  • Saponins / pharmacology*
  • Sorafenib


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • PG 545
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Saponins
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib
  • heparanase
  • Glucuronidase

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