Title

Role of Vascular Normalization in Benefit from Metronomic Chemotherapy

Publication Date

2-21-2017

Journal

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Volume

114

Issue

8

First Page

1994

Last Page

1999

Department

Biomedical Engineering

Abstract

Metronomic dosing of chemotherapy—defined as frequent administration at lower doses—has been shown to be more efficacious than maximum tolerated dose treatment in preclinical studies, and is currently being tested in the clinic. Although multiple mechanisms of benefit from metronomic chemotherapy have been proposed, how these mechanisms are related to one another and which one is dominant for a given tumor–drug combination is not known. To this end, we have developed a mathematical model that incorporates various proposed mechanisms, and report here that improved function of tumor vessels is a key determinant of benefit from metronomic chemotherapy. In our analysis, we used multiple dosage schedules and incorporated interactions among cancer cells, stem-like cancer cells, immune cells, and the tumor vasculature. We found that metronomic chemotherapy induces functional normalization of tumor blood vessels, resulting in improved tumor perfusion. Improved perfusion alleviates hypoxia, which reprograms the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment toward immunostimulation and improves drug delivery and therapeutic outcomes. Indeed, in our model, improved vessel function enhanced the delivery of oxygen and drugs, increased the number of effector immune cells, and decreased the number of regulatory T cells, which in turn killed a larger number of cancer cells, including cancer stem-like cells. Vessel function was further improved owing to decompression of intratumoral vessels as a result of increased killing of cancer cells, setting up a positive feedback loop. Our model enables evaluation of the relative importance of these mechanisms, and suggests guidelines for the optimal use of metronomic therapy.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1700340114

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