CT spectral imaging for monitoring the therapeutic efficacy of VEGF receptor kinase inhibitor AG-013736 in rabbit VX2 liver tumours
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key upstream mediator of tumor angiogenesis, and blockade of VEGF can inhibit tumor angiogenesis and decrease tumor growth. However, not all tumors respond well to anti-VEGF therapy. Despite much effort, identification of early response biomarkers that correlate with long-term efficacy of anti-VEGF therapy has been difficult. These difficulties arise in part because the functional effects of VEGF inhibition on tumor vessels are still unclear. We therefore assessed rapid molecular, morphologic and functional vascular responses following treatment with aflibercept (also known as VEGF Trap or ziv-aflibercept in the United States) in preclinical tumor models with a range of responses to anti-VEGF therapy, including Colo205 human colorectal carcinoma (highly sensitive), C6 rat glioblastoma (moderately sensitive), and HT1080 human fibrosarcoma (resistant), and correlated these changes to long-term tumor growth inhibition. We found that an overall decrease in tumor vessel perfusion, assessed by dynamic contrast-enhanced ultrasound (DCE-US), and increases in tumor hypoxia correlated well with long-term tumor growth inhibition, whereas changes in vascular gene expression and microvessel density did not. Our findings support previous clinical studies showing that decreased tumor perfusion after anti-VEGF therapy (measured by DCE-US) correlated with response. Thus, measuring tumor perfusion changes shortly after treatment with VEGF inhibitors, or possibly other anti-angiogenic therapies, may be useful to predict treatment efficacy.