Rauca, V.F., Patras, L., Luput, L., Licarete, E., Toma, V.A., Porfire, A., Mot, A.C., Rakosy-Tican, E., Sesarman, A., Banciu, M. (2021). Sci Rep 11, 22102.
Anti-angiogenic therapies for melanoma have not yet been translated into meaningful clinical benefit for patients, due to the development of drug-induced resistance in cancer cells, mainly caused by hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) overexpression and enhanced oxidative stress mediated by tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Our previous study demonstrated synergistic antitumor actions of simvastatin (SIM) and 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) on an in vitro melanoma model via suppression of the aggressive phenotype of melanoma cells and inhibition of TAMs-mediated angiogenesis. Therefore, we took the advantage of long circulating liposomes (LCL) superior tumor targeting capacity to efficiently deliver SIM and DMXAA to B16.F10 melanoma in vivo, with the final aim of improving the outcome of the anti-angiogenic therapy. Thus, we assessed the effects of this novel combined tumor-targeted treatment on s.c. B16.F10 murine melanoma growth and on the production of critical markers involved in tumor development and progression. Our results showed that the combined liposomal therapy almost totally inhibited (> 90%) the growth of melanoma tumors, due to the enhancement of anti-angiogenic effects of LCL-DMXAA by LCL-SIM and simultaneous induction of a pro-apoptotic state of tumor cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME). These effects were accompanied by the partial re-education of TAMs towards an M1 phenotype and augmented by combined therapy-induced suppression of major invasion and metastasis promoters (HIF-1α, pAP-1 c-Jun, and MMPs). Thus, this novel therapy holds the potential to remodel the TME, by suppressing its most important malignant biological capabilities.