Background: Neuroendocrine tumors are well vascularized and express specific cell surface markers, such as somatostatin receptors and the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R). Using the Rip1Tag2 transgenic mouse model of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET), we have investigated the potential benefit of a combination of anti-angiogenic treatment with targeted internal radiotherapy.
Methods: [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4, a radiopeptide that selectively binds to GLP-1R expressed on insulinoma and other neuroendocrine tumor cells, was co-administered with oral vatalanib (an inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR)) or imatinib (a c-kit/PDGFR inhibitor). The control groups included single-agent kinase inhibitor treatments and [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-natIn)NH2]-exendin-4 monotherapy. For biodistribution, Rip1Tag2 mice were pre-treated with oral vatalanib or imatinib for 0, 3, 5, or 7 days at a dose of 100 mg/kg. Subsequently, [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4 was administered i.v., and the biodistribution was assessed after 4 h. For therapy, the mice were injected with 1.1 MBq [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4 and treated with vatalanib or imatinib 100 mg/kg orally for another 7 days. Tumor volume, tumor cell apoptosis and proliferation, and microvessel density were quantified.
Results: Combination of [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4 and vatalanib was significantly more effective than single treatments (p < 0.05) and reduced the tumor volume by 97% in the absence of organ damage. The pre-treatment of mice with vatalanib led to a reduction in the tumor uptake of [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4, indicating that concomitant administration of vatalanib and the radiopeptide was the best approach. Imatinib did not show a synergistic effect with [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4.
Conclusion: The combination of 1.1 MBq of [Lys40(Ahx-DTPA-111In)NH2]-exendin-4 with 100 mg/kg vatalanib had the same effect on a neuroendocrine tumor as the injection of 28 MBq of the radiopeptide alone but without any apparent side effects, such as radiation damage of the kidneys.