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Acute pharmacodynamic and antivascular effects of the vascular endothelial growth factor signaling inhibitor AZD2171 in Calu-6 human lung tumor xenografts

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steve Wedge


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The vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) signaling pathway, a key stimulant of solid tumor vascularization, is primarily dependent on the activation of the endothelial cell surface receptor VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2). AZD2171 is an oral, highly potent small-molecule inhibitor of VEGFR tyrosine kinase activity that inhibits angiogenesis and the growth of human tumor xenografts in vivo. Here, we show pharmacodynamic changes in VEGFR-2 phosphorylation induced by AZD2171. In mouse lung tissue, a single dose of AZD2171 at 6 mg/kg inhibited VEGF-A–stimulated VEGFR-2 phosphorylation by 87% at 2 h with significant inhibition (≥60%) maintained to 24 h. To examine inhibition of VEGFR-2 phosphorylation in tumor vasculature by immunohistochemistry, a comprehensive assessment of antibodies to various phosphorylation sites on the receptor was undertaken. Antibodies to the phosphotyrosine epitopes pY1175/1173 and pY1214/1212 were found suitable for this application. Calu-6 human lung tumor xenografts, from mice receiving AZD2171 or vehicle treatment (p.o., once daily), were examined by immunohistochemistry. A significant reduction in tumor vessel staining of phosphorylated VEGFR-2 (pVEGFR-2) was evident within 28 h of AZD2171 treatment (6 mg/kg). This effect preceded a significant reduction in tumor microvessel density, which was detectable following 52 h of AZD2171 treatment. These data show that AZD2171 is a potent inhibitor of VEGFR-2 activation in vivo and suggest that AZD2171 delivers therapeutic benefit in Calu-6 tumors by targeting vessels dependent on VEGFR-2 signaling for survival. In addition, this work highlights the utility of measuring either pY1175/1173 or pY1214/1212 on VEGFR-2 as a pharmacodynamic marker of VEGFR-2 activation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith NR, James NH, Oakley I, Wainwright A, Copley C, Kendrew J, Womersley LM, Jürgensmeier JM, Wedge SR, Barry ST

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

Year: 2007

Volume: 6

Issue: 8

Pages: 2198-2208

ISSN (print): 1535-7163

ISSN (electronic): 1538-8514

Publisher: American Association for Cancer Research


DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-0142


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