Halofuginone suppresses growth of human uterine leiomyoma cells in a mouse xenograft model

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

Does halofuginone (HF) inhibit the growth of human uterine leiomyoma cells in a mouse xenograft model?

SUMMARY ANSWER

HF suppresses the growth of human uterine leiomyoma cells in a mouse xenograft model through inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

Uterine leiomyomas are the most common benign tumors of the female reproductive tract. HF can suppress the growth of human uterine leiomyoma cells in vitro. The mouse xenograft model reflects the characteristics of human leiomyomas.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

Primary leiomyoma smooth muscle cells from eight patients were xenografted under the renal capsule of adult, ovariectomized NOD-scid IL2Rγnull mice (NSG). Mice were treated with two different doses of HF or vehicle for 4 weeks with six to eight mice per group.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

Mouse body weight measurements and immunohistochemical analysis of body organs were carried out to assess the safety of HF treatment. Xenografted tumors were measured and analyzed for cellular and molecular changes induced by HF. Ovarian steroid hormone receptors were evaluated for possible modulation by HF.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

Treatment of mice carrying human UL xenografts with HF at 0.25 or 0.50 mg/kg body weight for 4 weeks resulted in a 35–40% (P < 0.05) reduction in tumor volume. The HF-induced volume reduction was accompanied by increased apoptosis and decreased cell proliferation. In contrast, there was no significant change in the collagen content either at the transcript or protein level between UL xenografts in control and HF groups. HF treatment did not change the expression level of ovarian steroid hormone receptors. No adverse pathological effects were observed in other tissues from mice undergoing treatment at these doses.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

While this study did test the effects of HF on human leiomyoma cells in an in vivo model, HF was administered to mice whose tolerance and metabolism of the drug may differ from that in humans. Also, the longer term effects of HF treatment are yet unclear.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

The results of this study showing the effectiveness of HF in reducing UL tumor growth by interfering with the main cellular processes regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis are in agreement with previous studies on the effects of HF on other fibrotic diseases. HF can be considered as a candidate for reducing the size of leiomyomas, particularly prior to surgery.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

This project was funded by NIH PO1HD057877 and R01 HD064402. Authors report no competing interests.

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