Vascular-targeted TNFα improves tumor blood vessel function and enhances antitumor immunity and chemotherapy in colorectal cancer

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Delivery and penetration of chemotherapeutic drugs into neoplasm through the tumor vasculature are essential mechanisms to enhance the efficiency of chemotherapy. “Vascular targeting” strategy focuses on promoting the infiltration of chemotherapeutic drugs into neoplastic tissues. In this study, we achieved a targeted therapy by coupling tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) with TCP-1, a novel vascular-targeting peptide, in an orthotopic colorectal cancer model in mice. High dose of TCP-1-conjugated TNFα (TCP-1/TNFα: 5 μg/mouse) displayed potent antitumor activity by inducing apoptosis and reducing microvessel number in tumors than unconjugated TNFα, with no evidence of increased toxicity. In the combined therapy, the antitumor action of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) was potentiated when the mice were pretreated with a low dose of TNFα (1 ng/mouse) and to a greater extent by the same concentration of TCP-1/TNFα. In this regard, TCP-1/TNFα combined with 5-FU synergistically inhibited the tumor growth, induced apoptosis and reduced cell proliferation. More importantly, TCP-1/TNFα normalized the tumor vasculature and facilitated the infiltration of immune cells to neoplasm as well as attenuated the immunosuppressing effects of TNFα in bone marrow and spleen. At the same time, TCP-1/TNFα significantly improved 5-FU absorption into the tumor mass. Taken together, these findings underscore the therapeutic potential of TCP-1 as a drug carrier in cancer therapy. TCP-1 is a novel vascular-targeting peptide and appears to be a promising agent for drug delivery. TCP-1 fused with TNFα holds great promise for colorectal cancer therapy.

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