Use of an antagonist of HMGB1 in mice affected by malignant mesothelioma: a preliminary ultrasound and optical imaging study

Eur Radiol Exp. 2022 Feb 8;6(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s41747-021-00260-y.


Background: Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive tumor, with a poor prognosis, usually unresectable due to late diagnosis, mainly treated with chemotherapy. BoxA, a truncated form of "high mobility group box 1" (HMGB1), acting as an HMGB1 antagonist, might exert a defensive action against MM. We investigated the potential of BoxA for MM treatment using experimental 40-MHz ultrasound and optical imaging (OI) in a murine model.

Methods: Murine MM cells infected with a lentiviral vector expressing the luciferase gene were injected into the peritoneum of 14 BALB/c mice (7 × 104 AB1-B/c-LUC cells). These mice were randomized to treatment with BoxA (n = 7) or phosphate-buffered saline (controls, n = 7). The experiment was repeated with 40 mice divided into two groups (n = 20 + 20) and treated as above to confirm the result and achieve greater statistical power. Tumor presence was investigated by experimental ultrasound and OI; suspected peritoneal masses underwent histopathology and immunohistochemistry examination.

Results: In the first experiment, none of the 7 controls survived beyond day 27, whereas 4/7 BoxA-treated mice (57.1%) survived up to day 70. In the second experiment, 6/20 controls (30.0%) and 16/20 BoxA-treated mice (80.0%) were still alive at day 34 (p = 0.004). In both experiments, histology confirmed the malignant nature of masses detected using experimental ultrasound and OI.

Conclusion: In our preclinical experience on a murine model, BoxA seems to exert a protective role toward MM. Both experimental ultrasound and OI proved to be reliable techniques for detecting MM peritoneal masses.

Keywords: HMGB1 protein; Mesothelioma (malignant); Mice (inbred BALB C); Optical imaging; Ultrasonography.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial, Veterinary

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • HMGB1 Protein*
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant*
  • Mice
  • Optical Imaging
  • Ultrasonography


  • HMGB1 Protein