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      Comparison of effects of anti-angiogenic agents in the zebrafish efficacy–toxicity model for translational anti-angiogenic drug discovery

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          Anti-angiogenic therapy in certain cancers has been associated with improved control of tumor growth and metastasis. Development of anti-angiogenic agents has, however, been saddled with higher attrition rate due to suboptimal efficacy, narrow therapeutic windows, or development of organ-specific toxicities. The aim of this study was to evaluate the translational ability of the zebrafish efficacy–toxicity model to stratify anti-angiogenic agents based on efficacy, therapeutic windows, and off-target effects to streamline the compound selection process in anti-angiogenic discovery.


          The embryonic model of zebrafish was employed for studying angiogenesis and toxicity. The zebrafish were treated with anti-angiogenic compounds to evaluate their effects on angiogenesis and zebrafish-toxicity parameters. Angiogenesis was measured by scoring the development of subintestinal vessels. Toxicity was evaluated by calculating the median lethal concentration, the lowest observed effect concentration, and gross morphological changes. Results of efficacy and toxicity were used to predict the therapeutic window.


          In alignment with the clinical outcomes, the zebrafish assays demonstrated that vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) inhibitors are the most potent anti-angiogenic agents, followed by multikinase inhibitors and inhibitors of endothelial cell proliferation. The toxicity assays reported cardiac phenotype in zebrafish treated with VEGFR inhibitors and multikinase inhibitors with VEGFR activity suggestive of cardiotoxic potential of these compounds. Several other pathological features were reported for multikinase inhibitors suggestive of off-target effects. The predicted therapeutic window was translational with the clinical trial outcomes of the anti-angiogenic agents. The zebrafish efficacy–toxicity approach could stratify anti-angiogenic agents based on the mechanism of action and delineate chemical structure-driven biological activity of anti-angiogenic compounds.


          The zebrafish efficacy–toxicity approach can be used as a predictive model for translational anti-angiogenic drug discovery to streamline compound selection, resulting in safer and efficacious anti-angiogenic agents entering the clinics.

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          Most cited references 51

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           J Folkman (1994)
          Recent discoveries of endogenous negative regulators of angiogenesis, thrombospondin, angiostatin and glioma-derived angiogenesis inhibitory factor, all associated with neovascularized tumours, suggest a new paradigm of tumorigenesis. It is now helpful to think of the switch to the angiogenic phenotype as a net balance of positive and negative regulators of blood vessel growth. The extent to which the negative regulators are decreased during this switch may dictate whether a primary tumour grows rapidly or slowly and whether metastases grow at all.
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            Cardiotoxicity associated with tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib.

            Sunitinib, a multitargeted tyrosine-kinase inhibitor, which is approved by both US and European Commission regulatory agencies for clinical use, extends survival of patients with metastatic renal-cell carcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumours, but concerns have arisen about its cardiac safety. We therefore assessed the cardiovascular risk associated with sunitinib in patients with metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumours. We retrospectively reviewed all cardiovascular events in 75 patients with imatinib-resistant, metastatic, gastrointestinal stromal tumours who had been enrolled in a phase I/II trial investigating the efficacy of sunitinib. The composite cardiovascular endpoint was cardiac death, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure. We also examined sunitinib's effects on left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and blood pressure. We investigated potential mechanisms of sunitinib-associated cardiac effects by studies in isolated rat cardiomyocytes and in mice. Eight of 75 (11%) patients given repeating cycles of sunitinib in the phase I/II trial had a cardiovascular event, with congestive heart failure recorded in six of 75 (8%). Ten of 36 (28%) patients treated at the approved sunitinib dose had absolute LVEF reductions in ejection fraction (EF) of at least 10%, and seven of 36 (19%) had LVEF reductions of 15 EF% or more. Sunitinib induced increases in mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and 35 of 75 (47%) individuals developed hypertension (>150/100 mm Hg). Congestive heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction generally responded to sunitinib being withheld and institution of medical management. Sunitinib caused mitochondrial injury and cardiomyocyte apoptosis in mice and in cultured rat cardiomyocytes. Left ventricular dysfunction might be due, in part, to direct cardiomyocyte toxicity, exacerbated by hypertension. Patients treated with sunitinib should be closely monitored for hypertension and LVEF reduction, especially those with a history of coronary artery disease or cardiac risk factors.
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              Disrupting tumour blood vessels.

              Low-molecular-weight vascular-disrupting agents (VDAs) cause a pronounced shutdown in blood flow to solid tumours, resulting in extensive tumour-cell necrosis, while they leave the blood flow in normal tissues relatively intact. The largest group of VDAs is the tubulin-binding combretastatins, several of which are now being tested in clinical trials. DMXAA (5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid) - one of a structurally distinct group of drugs - is also being tested in clinical trials. A full understanding of the action of these and other VDAs will provide insights into mechanisms that control tumour blood flow and will be the basis for the development of new therapeutic drugs for targeting the established tumour vasculature for therapy.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                19 August 2014
                : 8
                : 1107-1123
                [1 ]Department of Pharmacology, Piramal Life Sciences Limited, Mumbai, India
                [2 ]Department of Modeling and Simulation, Piramal Life Sciences Limited, Mumbai, India
                [3 ]Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Piramal Life Sciences Limited, Mumbai, India
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Geetanjali Chimote, Department of Pharmacology, Piramal Life Sciences Limited, 1 Nirlon Complex, Off Western Express Highway, Goregaon East, Mumbai 400063, Maharashtra, India, Tel +91 22 3081 8112, Fax +91 22 3081 8036, Email geetanjali.chimote@ 123456piramal.com
                © 2014 Chimote et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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