Objectives: Recent studies have shown that Exisulind, a sulfone metabolite of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sulindac, has inhibitory activity in vitro with cultured human prostate cancer cells. To determine whether this effect might be pharmacologically relevant in vivo, we tested whether Exisulind therapy could suppress the growth of human prostate cancer cells in a nude mouse xenograft model.
Methods: Thirty athymic nude mice were injected subcutaneously in the flank with 1 x 10(7) LNCaP human prostate tumor cells. All mice received a control diet for 21 days. One group of mice was continued on this control diet for an additional 4 weeks, a second group was switched to a diet supplemented with 0.05% Exisulind (40% of maximal tolerated dose [MTD]), and a third group was switched to a diet supplemented with 0.1% Exisulind (80% MTD) for the additional 4 weeks. Tumor growth was measured through the 4-week test period, and subsequently tissue sections from the various groups were tested for apoptotic and dividing cells by quantified use of the TUNEL assay and a bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation immunoassay.
Results: Tumors grew by 158%, 24%, and 18% for the control and 0.05% and 0.1% Exisulind groups, respectively (P = 0.02) during the 4-week test period. Immunohistochemical studies on excised tumors showed an increased number of apoptotic bodies in the treated groups versus the control group (P<0.0001) but no change in the number of BrdU positive cells.
Conclusions: This is the first study to show a direct in vivo effect of an NSAID-derived drug, lacking cyclooxygenase inhibitory activity, in a xenograft model of prostate cancer. Clinical studies to evaluate the effects of Exisulind against prostate cancer in humans are warranted.