, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 273-282
Date: 08 Feb 2008

Chemoembolisation of rat colorectal liver metastases with drug eluting beads loaded with irinotecan or doxorubicin

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Abstract

Systemic chemotherapy has limited success in treating liver metastasis of colorectal cancer. Alternative approaches such as hepatic arterial infusion or trans arterial chemoembolisation aim to deliver the chemotherapy locally to address the predominant liver disease. Chemoembolisation with drug eluting beads (DEB) designed to deliver drug at the target over a protracted period of time is a new strategy to reduce the tumor burden of liver metastases. To test this hypothesis, DEB possessing anionic groups capable of ionically complexing with cationic drugs were synthesised by a suspension polymerisation method and were fractionated to produce an average size of 75 μm. The DEB were loaded with the desired concentration of either doxorubicin hydrochloride or irinotecan hydrochloride prior to administration by immersion in the drug solution, yielding essentially 100% loading efficiency. To determine their effect in vivo, a transplantable orthotopic and isogenic rat liver metastasis model was used which is based on intraportal injection of 4 × 106 β-galactosidase transfected CC531 rat colorectal cancer cells into male WAG/Rij rats. By MTT assay, the cells were shown to be sensitive to both drugs in vitro with the IC50 being by two orders of magnitude lower for doxorubicin (110 nM after 72 h) compared to irinotecan (25 μM after 72 h). For the in vivo phase, a differential expression of the ERK MAP kinase between tumor cells cultured in vitro and those inoculated in vivo was noted using Western blotting techniques. This was considered to be indicative of passage-induced cell senescence that reduced the sensitivity of the tumor cells to DEB chemoembolisation. This notwithstanding, administration of DEB loaded with irinotecan or doxorubicin by single injection into the hepatic artery showed significant anticancer activity, as measured by a reduction in the tumor burden of the liver and a corresponding reduction in liver weight. Comparing the two agents, irinotecan appears more advantageous because of its significant activity and excellent tolerability following administration at two dosages of either 20 or 30 mg/kg. Doxorubicin showed a narrower window of activity, being effective at 4 mg/kg but ineffective at the lower dose of 2 mg/kg. We conclude that chemoembolisation with DEB with either agent may have potential for treating patients with colorectal liver metastasis, although irinotecan DEB appeared to have a more favourable safety profile.