Pharmacokinetics and Antitumor Efficacy of Chemoembolization Using 40 μm Irinotecan-Loaded Microspheres in a Rabbit Liver Tumor Model

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To evaluate the pharmacokinetics and antitumor efficacy of 40 μm irinotecan-loaded drug-eluting microspheres (Embozene TANDEM Microspheres; CeloNova BioSciences, Inc, San Antonio, Texas) (TANDEM-IRI).

Materials and Methods:

The following three groups included eight VX2 rabbits each: group 1, full-loaded (50 mg irinotecan/1 mL TANDEM)/high-dose injection (1 mg irinotecan/kg); group 2, full-loaded (50 mg irinotecan/1 mL TANDEM)/low-dose injection (0.5 mg irinotecan/kg); and group 3, half-loaded (25 mg irinotecan/1 mL TANDEM)/low-dose injection (0.5 mg irinotecan/kg). Irinotecan and SN-38 in the plasma and tumors were measured within 72 hours. Histologic examinations were conducted on days 1, 3, and 7.


Serum irinotecan levels remained near the maximum concentration for 180 minutes after transarterial chemoembolization; in group 1, levels were 351.4 ng/mL at 30 minutes, 329.0 ng/mL at 60 minutes, and 333.5 ng/mL at 180 minutes. The area under the curve for 0–24 hours of irinotecan in group 1 was approximately two times higher than the same value in groups 2 and 3. High irinotecan and SN-38 concentrations in the tumors were measured at 24 hours and 72 hours. After transarterial chemoembolization, levels of liver enzymes aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase were significantly higher in group 1 compared with groups 2 and 3. Histologic findings showed microspheres had deeply penetrated into tumors. Significantly higher tumor necrosis ratios were observed in groups 1 (86.6%–90.0%) and 3 (90.0%–100%) compared with group 2 (63.3%–70%) (P = .031 and P = .016).


Slow drug release with high drug concentration in tumors can be provided with 40 μm TANDEM-IRI. When complete arterial embolization is performed, the dose of irinotecan loaded on 40 μm TANDEM microspheres can be reduced while maintaining efficacy.

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