Summary: Objective: The anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody bevacizumab has received considerable attention as a first-line treatment of advanced colorectal cancers. Difficulties associated with effectively monitoring the activity of this drug have prompted us to seek a pharmacodynamic marker suitable for defining the optimum biological dose and schedule of bevacizumab administration against colon cancer in early clinical trials. Methods: We evaluated inhibitory effects of bevacizumab on VEGF signaling and tumor growth in vitro and in vivo, and assessed phosphorylation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and downstream signaling in endothelial cells as pharmacodynamic markers using phospho-flow cytometry. We also validated markers in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) treated with bevacizumab-based chemotherapy. Results: In in vitro studies, bevacizumab inhibited proliferation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells in association with reduced VEGF signaling. Notably, bevacizumab inhibited VEGF-induced phosphorylation of VEGFR-2, Akt, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). In vivo, treatment with bevacizumab inhibited growth of xenografted tumors and attenuated VEGF-induced phosphorylation of Akt and ERK. The median percentages of VEGFR2 + pAkt + and VEGFR2 + pERK + cells, determined by phospho-flow cytometry, were approximately 3-fold higher in mCRC patients than in healthy controls. Bevacizumab treatment decreased VEGFR2 + pAkt + cells in 18 of 24 patients on day 3. Conclusion: Bevacizumab combined with chemotherapy decreased the number of VEGFR2 + pAkt + cells, reflecting impaired VEGFR2 signaling. Together, these data suggest that changes in the proportion of circulating VEGFR2 + pAkt + cells may be a potential pharmacodynamic marker of the efficacy of antiangiogenic agents, and could prove valuable in determining drug dosage and administration schedule.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)