Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology

Oxygen carrier YQ23 can enhance the chemotherapeutic drug responses of chemoresistant esophageal tumor xenografts.

PMID 26553104


Adjunct chemoradiation is offered to unresectable esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) patients, while its use is limited in tumors with strong resistance. Oxygen carriers or anti-hypoxic drugs belong to an emerging class of regulators that can alleviate tumor hypoxia. We investigate the potential use of a novel oxygen carrier YQ23 in sensitizing chemoresistant ESCC in a series of subcutaneous tumor xenograft models developed using ESCC cell lines with different strengths of chemosensitivities. Tumor xenografts were developed using SLMT-1 and HKESC-2 ESCC cell lines with different strengths of resistance to two chemotherapeutic drugs, 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin. More resistant SLMT-1 xenografts responded better to YQ23 treatment than HKESC-2, as reflected by the induced tumor oxygen level. YQ23 sensitized SLMT-1 xenografts toward 5-fluorouracil via its effect on reducing the level of a hypoxic marker HIF-1α. Furthermore, a derangement of tumor microvessel density and integrity was demonstrated with a concurrent decrease in the level of a tumor mesenchymal marker vimentin. Similar to the 5-fluorouracil sensitizing effect, YQ23 also enhanced the response of SLMT-1 xenografts toward cisplatin by reducing the tumor size and the number of animals with invasive tumors. Chemosensitive HKESC-2 xenografts were irresponsive to combined YQ23 and cisplatin treatment. In all, YQ23 functions selectively on chemoresistant ESCC xenografts, which implicates its potential use as a chemosensitizing agent for ESCC patients.