Imatinib mesylate efficiently achieves therapeutic intratumor concentrations in vivo but has limited activity in a xenograft model of small cell lung cancer.Clin Cancer Res. 2004 May 15; 10(10):3528-34.CC
Despite recent advances in cancer therapy, long-term survival in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) remains uncommon, underscoring the need for novel therapeutic approaches. Previous studies have identified constitutive expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase, c-Kit, and its ligand, stem cell factor, in a substantial proportion of SCLC specimens. The purpose of this study was to determine whether imatinib mesylate, an inhibitor of c-Kit, could achieve therapeutic concentrations in tumors and in brain (a frequent site of SCLC metastasis) and interfere with SCLC tumor growth in vivo.
Human SCLC tumor cell lines with constitutive c-kit expression and tyrosine phosphorylation (NCI-H209, NCI-H526, and NCI-H1607) were used to establish SCLC tumor xenografts in NCr nude (nu/nu)-immunodeficient mice. SCLC tumor-bearing mice were randomly assigned to imatinib or control (water) administered twice a day by oral gavage. Imatinib concentrations in plasma, brain, and tumor were quantitated and correlated with tumor response.
Therapeutic concentrations of imatinib were achieved in plasma and tumor xenografts but not in the brain. Imatinib blocked the constitutive activation of c-kit in SCLC tumor cell lines in vitro but had a negligible effect on SCLC xenograft growth in vivo.
Orally administered imatinib rapidly reaches therapeutic concentrations in SCLC xenografts, suggesting the feasibility of combining imatinib with other novel or traditional chemotherapeutic agents in SCLC or other solid tumors. The c-Kit signaling pathway does not appear to play a critical role in SCLC proliferation and viability in vivo, however, suggesting that imatinib is unlikely to be effective as monotherapy for SCLC.