Enhanced delivery of macromolecular antitumor drugs to tumors by nitroglycerin application.

Research paper by Takahiro T Seki, Jun J Fang, Hiroshi H Maeda

Indexed on: 02 Oct '09Published on: 02 Oct '09Published in: Cancer Science


Dose regimens of anticancer agents are usually designed on the basis of the maximum tolerable drug doses, and toxicity prevents drug usage at higher doses, even though the drugs may be more effective at the higher doses. We previously studied macromolecular anticancer drugs, i.e. those larger than 40 kDa, and observed their accelerated accumulation in tumors. Their concentration in tumors was more than 5-100-fold their blood concentration because of the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect. Here, we report that the EPR effect was enhanced by applying nitroglycerin (NG) ointment on the skin of tumor-bearing animals. Tumors studied included breast cancer, which was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by the chemical carcinogen 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene, and three different transplanted tumor models in mice. NG was applied on tumor or nontumorous normal skin as well. Two to three times more putative macromolecular drug (an Evans blue/albumin complex) was delivered to solid tumors with NG than without NG. We also demonstrated that NG enhanced tumor delivery with another macromolecular drug candidate, PZP, i.e. polyethylene glycol-conjugated zinc protoporphyrin IX, which inhibits heme oxygenase-1. In addition, we investigated the therapeutic effect of NG using a combination with low molecular weight anthracycline or high molecular weight PZP in mouse tumor models. NG had no apparent toxicity at the doses used, and showed significantly increased therapeutic effects in both cases. Regardless of its site of application, NG thus enhanced the delivery of the drug to tumors, and enhanced therapeutic effects.