In this study, we sought to determine the therapeutic potential of variably sized (50 μm or 500 μm wide, 14 mm tall) parallel microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) alone and in combination with a novel anti-angiogenic peptide, anginex, in mouse mammary carcinomas (4T1) – a moderately hypoxic and radioresistant tumor with propensity to metastasize. The fraction of total tumor volume that was directly irradiated was approximately 25% in each case, but the distance between segments irradiated by the planar microbeams (width of valley dose region) varied by an order of magnitude from 150-1500 μm corresponding to 200 μm and 2000 μm center-to-center inter-microbeam distances, respectively. We found that MRT administered in 50 μm beams at 150 Gy was most effective in delaying tumor growth. Furthermore, tumor growth delay induced by 50 μm beams at 150 Gy was virtually indistinguishable from the 500 μm beams at 150 Gy. Fifty-micrometer beams at the lower peak dose of 75 Gy induced growth delay intermediate between 150 Gy and untreated tumors, while 500 μm beams at 75 Gy were unable to alter tumor growth compared to untreated tumors. However, the addition of anginex treatment increased the relative tumor growth delay after 500 μm beams at 75 Gy most substantially out of the conditions tested. Anginex treatment of animals whose tumors received the 50 μm beams at 150 Gy also led to an improvement in growth delay from that induced by the comparable MRT alone. Immunohistochemical staining for CD31 (endothelial cells) and αSMA (smooth muscle pericyte-associated blood vessels as a measure of vessel normalization) indicated that vessel density was significantly decreased in all irradiated groups and pericyte staining was significantly increased in the irradiated groups on day 14 after irradiation. The addition of anginex treatment further decreased the mean vascular density in all combination treatment groups and further increased the amount of pericyte staining in these tumors. Finally, evidence of tumor hypoxia was found to decrease in tumors analyzed at 1–14 days after MRT in the groups receiving 150 Gy peak dose, but not 75 Gy peak dose. Our results suggest that tumor vascular damage induced by MRT at these potentially clinically acceptable peak entrance doses may provoke vascular normalization and may be exploited to improve tumor control using agents targeting angiogenesis.

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