, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 363-375
Date: 19 Mar 2010

The PHSCN dendrimer as a more potent inhibitor of human breast cancer cell invasion, extravasation, and lung colony formation

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The α5β1 integrin fibronectin receptor is an attractive therapeutic target in breast cancer because it plays key roles in invasion and metastasis. While its inactive form is widely expressed, activated α5β1 occurs only on tumor cells and their associated vasculature. The PHSCN peptide has been shown to bind activated α5β1 preferentially, thereby blocking invasion in vitro, and inhibiting growth, metastasis and tumor recurrence in preclinical models. Moreover in a recent Phase I clinical trial, systemic PHSCN monotherapy was well tolerated, and metastatic disease failed to progress for 4–14 months in 38% of patients receiving it. A significantly more potent PHSCN derivative, the PHSCN–polylysine dendrimer (Ac-PHSCNGGK-MAP) has recently been developed. We report that it is 1280- to 6700-fold more potent than the PHSCN peptide at blocking α5β1 mediated SUM-149 PT and MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cell invasion of naturally occurring basement membranes in vitro. Chou–Talalay analysis of these data suggested that invasion inhibition by the PHSCN dendrimer was highly synergistic. We also report that, consistent with its enhanced invasion-inhibitory potency, the PHSCN dendrimer is 700- to 1100-fold more effective than the PHSCN peptide at preventing SUM-149 PT and MDA-MB-231 extravasation in the lungs of athymic, nude mice. Our results also show that many extravasated SUM-149 PT and MDA-MB-231 cells go on to develop into metastatic colonies, and that pretreatment with the PHSCN dendrimer is more than 100-fold more effective at reducing lung colony formation. Since many patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer already have locally advanced or metastatic disease, the availability of a well-tolerated, nontoxic systemic therapy that can prevent metastatic progression by blocking invasion could be very beneficial.