Antitumor effectiveness of a combined therapy with a new cucurbitacin B derivative and paclitaxel on a human lung cancer xenograft model

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Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of the most common malignant tumors, with a high mortality rate due to the elevated risk of resistance. Natural cucurbitacins and their derivatives are recognized as promising antitumor compounds for several types of cancer, including NSCLC. In a recent study published by our research group, DACE (2-deoxy-2-amine-cucurbitacin E), which is a semisynthetic derivative of cucurbitacin B, showed potential in vitro synergistic antiproliferative effects combined with paclitaxel (PTX) in A549 cells. In sequence, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the in vivo antitumor efficacy of this combined therapy as well as with these drugs individually, using a human NSCLC xenograft model. Some indicators of sub chronic toxicity that could be affected by treatments were also assessed. The results obtained in vivo with the combined treatment (1 mg/kg + PTX 10 mg/kg) showed the most effective reduction of the relative tumor volume and the highest inhibition of tumor growth and proliferation, when compared with those of the single treatments. Furthermore, scintigraphic images, obtained before and after the treatments, showed that the most effective protocol able to reduce the residual viable tumor mass was the combined treatment. All treatment regimens were well tolerated without significant changes in body weight and no histological and functional damage to liver and kidney tissues. These results corroborate our previous in vitro synergistic effects published. Taken together, these insights are novel and highlight the therapeutic potential of DACE and PTX combination scheme for NSCLC.

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