Local and Systemic Pathogenesis and Consequences of Regimen-Induced Inflammatory Responses in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer Receiving Chemoradiation
Oral mucositis is a common, treatment-limiting, and costly side effect of cancer treatments whose biological underpinnings remain poorly understood. In this study, mucositis induced in hamsters by 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) was observed after cheek-pouch scarifications, with and without administration of RGTA (RG1503), a polymer engineered to mimic the protective effects of heparan sulfate. RG1503 had no effects on 5-FU-induced decreases in body weight, blood cell counts, or cheek-pouch and jejunum epithelium proliferation rates, suggesting absence of interference with the cytotoxic effects of 5-FU. Extensive mucositis occurred in all of the untreated animals, and consisted of severe damage to cheek pouch tissues (epithelium, underlying connective tissue, and muscle bundles). Only half of the RG1503-treated animals had mucositis, over a mean area 70% smaller than in the untreated animals. Basement membranes were almost completely destroyed in the untreated group but was preserved in the RG1503 group. RG1503 blunted or abolished the following 5-FU-induced effects: increases in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, MMP-9, and plasmin, and decreases in tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1 and TIMP-2. These data indicate that mucositis lesions are related to massive release of proteolytic enzymes and are improved by RG1503 treatment, this effect being ascribable in part to restoration of the MMP-TIMP balance. RG1503 given with cancer treatment might protect patients from mucositis.