Bevacizumab, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody, is an antiangiogenic agent clinically used for various cancers. However, repeated use of this agent leads to tumor-decreased vascularity and hypoxia with activation of an HIF-1 signaling pathway, which results in drug delivery deficiency and induction of malignant behaviors in tumors. Here, we developed a novel strategy to treat tumors with bevacizumab-induced vascular decrease and hypoxia using 64Cu-diacetyl-bis (N4-methylthiosemicarbazone) (64Cu-ATSM), a potential theranostic agent, which possesses high tissue permeability and can target over-reduced conditions under hypoxia in tumors, with a human colon carcinoma HT-29 tumor-bearing mouse model. The long-term treatment with bevacizumab caused decreased blood vessel density and activation of an HIF-1 signaling pathway; increased uptake of 64Cu-ATSM was also observed despite limited blood vessel density in HT-29 tumors. In vivo high-resolution SPECT/PET/CT imaging confirmed reduced vascularity and increased proportion of 64Cu-ATSM uptake areas within the bevacizumab-treated tumors. 64Cu-ATSM therapy was effective to inhibit tumor growth and prolong survival of the bevacizumab-treated tumor-bearing mice without major adverse effects. In conclusion, 64Cu-ATSM therapy effectively enhanced anti-tumor effects in tumors with bevacizumab-induced vascular decrease and hypoxia. 64Cu-ATSM therapy could represent a novel approach as an add-on to antiangiogenic therapy.
Keywords: 64Cu-ATSM; angiogenesis; bevacizumab; hypoxia; vascular decrease.