Purpose: We investigated whether vandetanib, an inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase activities of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and rearranged during transfection (RET), could augment the antitumor activity of radiation with or without cisplatin in preclinical in vitro and in vivo models of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

Experimental Design: OSC-19 and HN5 HNSCC cells that were cisplatin and radioresistant were treated with vandetanib, cisplatin, and radiation alone or in combination in vitro and in vivo using an orthotopic nude mouse model. Treatment effects were assessed using clonogenic survival assay, tumor volume, bioluminescence imaging, tumor growth delay, survival, microvessel density, tumor and endothelial cell apoptosis, and EGFR and Akt phosphorylation data.

Results: Vandetanib plus cisplatin radiosensitized HNSCC cells in vitro and in vivo. The combination treatment with vandetanib, cisplatin, and radiation was superior to the rest of treatments (including the double combinations) in antitumoral effects, prolonging survival, decreasing cervical lymph node metastases in vivo. It also increased both tumor and tumor-associated endothelial cell apoptosis and decreased microvessel density in vivo. An analysis of tumor growth delay data revealed that vandetanib plus cisplatin enhanced radioresponse in vivo. All vandetanib-containing treatments inhibited EGFR and Akt phosphorylation in vitro and in vivo.

Conclusion: The addition of vandetanib to combination therapy with cisplatin and radiation was able to effectively overcome cisplatin and radioresistance in in vitro and in vivo models of HNSCC. Further study of this regimen in clinical trials may be warranted. Clin Cancer Res; 17(7); 1815–27. ©2011 AACR.

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