Differential antitumor activity of aflibercept and bevacizumab in patient-derived xenograft models of colorectal cancer

Mol Cancer Ther. 2014 Jun;13(6):1636-44. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0753. Epub 2014 Mar 31.


The recombinant fusion protein aflibercept (ziv-aflibercept in the United States) binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, and placental growth factor (PlGF). The monoclonal antibody bevacizumab binds VEGF-A. Recent studies hypothesized that dual targeting of VEGF/PlGF is more beneficial than targeting either ligand. We compared activity of aflibercept versus bevacizumab in 48 patient-derived xenograft (PDX) colorectal cancer models. Nude mice engrafted subcutaneously with PDX colorectal cancer tumors received biweekly aflibercept, bevacizumab, or vehicle injections. Differential activity between aflibercept and bevacizumab, determined by mouse (m), human (h), VEGF-A, and PlGF levels in untreated tumors, was measured. Aflibercept induced complete tumor stasis in 31 of 48 models and bevacizumab in 2 of 48. Based on statistical analysis, aflibercept was more active than bevacizumab in 39 of 48 models; in 9 of 39 of these models, bevacizumab was considered inactive. In 9 of 48 remaining models, aflibercept and bevacizumab had similar activity. Tumor levels of hVEGF-A (range 776-56,039 pg/mg total protein) were ∼16- to 1,777-fold greater than mVEGF-A (range 8-159 pg/mg total protein). Tumor levels of mPlGF (range 104-1,837 pg/mg total protein) were higher than hPlGF (range 0-543 pg/mg total protein) in 47 of 48 models. Tumor cells were the major source of VEGF; PlGF was primarily produced by tumor stroma. Because tumor levels of hVEGF-A were far greater than mVEGF-A, bevacizumab's inability to bind mVEGF-A is unlikely to explain higher and more consistent aflibercept activity. Neutralizing PlGF and VEGFR-1 activation may be a factor and should be investigated in future studies. In these colorectal cancer PDX models, aflibercept demonstrated greater antitumor activity than bevacizumab.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / administration & dosage*
  • Bevacizumab
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Pregnancy Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / administration & dosage*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • PGF protein, human
  • Pgf protein, mouse
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • aflibercept
  • Bevacizumab
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor