Multiple treatments with liposomal doxorubicin and ultrasound-induced disruption of blood–tumor and blood–brain barriers improve outcomes in a rat glioma model

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Abstract

The blood–brain-barrier (BBB) prevents the transport of most anticancer agents to the central nervous system and restricts delivery to infiltrating brain tumors. The heterogeneous vascular permeability in tumor vessels, along with several other factors, creates additional barriers for drug treatment of brain tumors. Focused ultrasound (FUS), when combined with circulating microbubbles, is an emerging noninvasive method to temporarily permeabilize the BBB and the “blood–tumor barrier”. Here, we tested the impact of three weekly sessions of FUS and liposomal doxorubicin (DOX) in 9L rat glioma tumors. Animals that received FUS + DOX (N = 8) had a median survival time that was increased significantly (P < 0.001) compared to animals who received DOX only (N = 6), FUS only (N = 8), or no treatment (N = 7). Median survival for animals that received FUS + DOX was increased by 100% relative to untreated controls, whereas animals who received DOX alone had only a 16% improvement. Animals who received only FUS showed no improvement. No tumor cells were found in histology in 4/8 animals in the FUS + DOX group, and in two animals, only a few tumor cells were detected. Adverse events in the treatment group included skin toxicity, impaired activity, damage to surrounding brain tissue, and tissue loss at the tumor site. In one animal, intratumoral hemorrhage was observed. These events are largely consistent with known side effects of doxorubicin and with an extensive tumor burden. Overall this work demonstrates that multiple sessions using this FUS technique to enhance the delivery of liposomal doxorubicin have a pronounced therapeutic effect in this rat glioma model.

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