Alternative pathways to the VEGF, such as hepatocyte growth factor or HGF/c-met, are emerging as key players in tumor angiogenesis and resistance to anti-VEGF therapies. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of a combination strategy targeting the VEGF and c-met pathways in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) models. Male SCID mice (8/group) were implanted with 786-O tumor pieces and treated with either a selective VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, axitinib (36 mg/kg, 2x/day); a c-met inhibitor, crizotinib (25 mg/kg, 1x/day); or combination. We further tested this drug combination in a human ccRCC patient-derived xenograft, RP-R-01, in both VEGF-targeted therapy-sensitive and -resistant models. To evaluate the resistant phenotype, we established an RP-R-01 sunitinib-resistant model by continuous sunitinib treatment (60 mg/kg, 1x/day) of RP-R-01-bearing mice. Treatment with single-agent crizotinib reduced tumor vascularization but failed to inhibit tumor growth in either model, despite also a significant increase of c-met expression and phosphorylation in the sunitinib-resistant tumors. In contrast, axitinib treatment was effective in inhibiting angiogenesis and tumor growth in both models, with its antitumor effect significantly increased by the combined treatment with crizotinib, independently from c-met expression. Combination treatment also induced prolonged survival and significant tumor growth inhibition in the 786-O human RCC model. Overall, our results support the rationale for the clinical testing of combined VEGF and HGF/c-met pathway blockade in the treatment of ccRCC, both in first- and second-line setting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research