Background: The treatment goal for recurrent malignant gliomas centers on disease stabilization while minimizing therapy-related side effects. Metronomic dosing of cytotoxic chemotherapy has emerged as a promising option to achieve this objective.
Methods: This phase I study was performed using metronomic temozolomide (mTMZ) at 25 or 50 mg/m2/day continuously in 42-day cycles. Correlative studies were incorporated using arterial spin labeling MRI to assess tumor blood flow, analysis of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 activities in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as surrogates for tumor angiogenesis and invasion, as well as determination of CSF soluble interleukin-2 receptor alpha (sIL-2Rα) levels as a marker of immune modulation.
Results: Nine subjects were enrolled and toxicity consisted of primarily grade 1 or 2 hematological and gastrointestinal side effects; only one patient had a grade 3 elevated liver enzyme level that was reversible. Tumor blood flow was variable across subjects and time, with two experiencing a transient increase before a decrease to below baseline level while one exhibited a gradual drop in blood flow over time. MMP-2 activity correlated with overall survival but not with progression free survival, while MMP-9 activity did not correlate with either outcome parameters. Baseline CSF sIL-2Rα level was inversely correlated with time from initial diagnosis to first progression, suggesting that subjects with higher sIL-2Rα may have more aggressive disease. But they lived longer when treated with mTMZ, probably due to drug-related changes in T-cell constituency.
Conclusions: mTMZ possesses efficacy against recurrent malignant gliomas by altering blood flow, slowing invasion and modulating antitumor immune function.
Keywords: Arterial spin labeling; Interleukin; Matrix metalloproteinase; Metronomic temozolomide; Recurrent glioma.