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Francesco DiMeco, Khan W. Li, Betty M. Tyler, Ariel S. Wolf, Henry Brem, and Alessandro Olivi

Object. Mitoxantrone is a drug with potent in vitro activity against malignant brain tumor cell lines; however, its effectiveness as a systemic agent has been hampered by poor central nervous system penetration and dose-limiting myelosuppression. To avoid these problems, we incorporated mitoxantrone into biodegradable polymeric wafers to be used for intracranial implantation, a strategy that has been shown to be safe and successful in the treatment of malignant gliomas. The authors investigated the release kinetics, toxicity, distribution, and efficacy of mitoxantrone delivered from intracranially implanted biodegradable wafers in the treatment of 9L gliosarcoma in Fischer 344 rats.

Methods. Mitoxantrone released from the biodegradable wafer matrix reached therapeutic drug concentrations in the brain for at least 35 days. Only animals with implanted wafers of the highest drug loading dose (20% mitoxantrone by weight) showed signs of significant toxicity. In three separate efficacy experiments, animals treated with mitoxantrone-loaded biodegradable wafers had significantly improved survival compared with control animals. The combined median survival for each treatment group was the following: 0% mitoxantrone wafers, 19 days; 1%, 30 days, p < 0.0001; 5%, 34 days, p < 0.0001; and 10%, 50 days, p < 0.0001.

Conclusions. These findings establish that mitoxantrone delivered from intracranially implanted biodegradable wafers is effective in the treatment of malignant gliomas in rodents and should be considered for future clinical application in humans.

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Rachel Grossman, Betty Tyler, Lee Hwang, Patti Zadnik, Bachchu Lal, Kashi Javaherian, and Henry Brem

Object

Brain tumors pose many unique challenges to treatment. The authors hypothesized that Fc-endostatin may be beneficial. It is a newly synthesized recombinant human endostatin conjugated to the Fc domain of IgG with a long half-life (weeks) and unknown toxicity. The authors examined the efficacy of Fc-endostatin using various delivery methods.

Methods

Efficacy was assessed using the intracranial 9L gliosarcoma rat model treated with Fc-endostatin for use in rodents (mFc-endostatin), which was administered either systemically or locally via different delivery methods. Oral temozolomide (TMZ) was administered in combination with mFc-endostatin to determine if there was a beneficial synergistic effect.

Results

Intracranial delivery of mFc-endostatin via a polymer or convection-enhanced delivery 5 days after tumor implantation increased median survival, compared with the control group (p = 0.0048 and 0.003, respectively). Animals treated weekly with subcutaneous mFc-endostatin (started 5 days post–tumor implantation) also had statistically improved survival as compared with controls (p = 0.0008). However, there was no statistical difference in survival between the local and systemic delivery groups. Control animals had a median survival of 13 days. Animals treated either with subcutaneous mFc-endostatin weekly or with polymer had a median survival of 18 and 15 days, respectively, and those treated with oral TMZ for 5 days (Days 5–9) had a median survival of 21 days. Survival was further increased with a combination of oral TMZ and mFc-endostatin polymer, with a median survival of 28 days (p = 0.029, compared with TMZ alone). Subcutaneous mFc-endostatin administered every week starting 18 days before tumor implantation significantly increased median survival when compared with controls (p = 0.0007), with 12.5% of the animals ultimately becoming long-term survivors (that is, survival longer than 120 days). The addition of TMZ to either weekly or daily subcutaneous mFc-endostatin and its administration 18 days before tumor implantation significantly increased survival (p = 0.017 and 0.0001, respectively, compared with TMZ alone). Note that 12.5% of the animals treated with weekly subcutaneous mFc-endostatin and TMZ were long-term survivors.

Conclusions

Systemically or directly (local) delivered mFc-endostatin prolonged the survival of rats implanted with intracranial 9L gliosarcoma. This benefit was further enhanced when mFc-endostatin was combined with the oral chemotherapeutic agent TMZ.

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Maciej S. Lesniak, Prakash Sampath, Francesco DiMeco, Michael P. Viglione, Betty M. Tyler, Drew M. Pardoll, and Henry Brem

Object

Local delivery of cytokines has been shown to have a potent antitumor activity against a wide range of malignant brain tumors. In this study, the authors examined the efficacy of treating central nervous system (CNS) tumors by transfecting poorly immunogenic B16/F10 melanoma cells with interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, or granulocyte-macrophage–colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) gene, and using these cells to deliver the cytokine locally at the site of the CNS tumor. The object was to determine which cytokine would possess the greatest antitumor activity and to further elucidate its mechanism of action.

Methods

The transfected B16/F10 cells were irradiated to prevent replication and injected intracranially into C57BL/6 mice (10 mice per group) along with nonirradiated, nontransfected B16/F10 (wild-type) melanoma cells. Sixty percent of mice treated with IL-2 (p < 0.001 compared with control) and 10% treated with IL-4 (median survival = 31 days, p < 0.001 compared with control) were long term survivors (> 120 days). The median survival for animals treated with GM-CSF was 22 days with no long term survivors (p = 0.01 compared with control). Control animals that received only wild-type cells had a median survival of 18 days (range 15–20 days). Histopathological examination of brains from animals killed at different times showed minimal infiltration of tumor cells in the IL-2 group, moderate infiltration of tumor cells in the IL-4 group, and gross tumor invasion and tissue necrosis in the GM-CSF group. Animals treated with IL-2 showed a strong CD8 T cell–mediated response, whereas IL-4 evoked a prominent eosinophilic infiltrate in the area of the tumor.

Conclusions

High levels of locally expressed IL-2 rather than IL-4 or GM-CSF stimulate a strong immunological cytotoxic antitumor response that leads to significant prolongation of survival in mice challenged with B16/F10 intracranial melanoma tumor cells. Consequently, IL-2 may be a superior candidate for use in paracrine immunotherapy.

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Betty M. Tyler, Alia Hdeib, Justin Caplan, Federico G. Legnani, Kirk D. Fowers, Henry Brem, George Jallo, and Gustavo Pradilla

Object

Treatment options for anaplastic or malignant intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs) remain limited. Paclitaxel has potent cytotoxicity against experimental intracranial gliomas and could be beneficial in the treatment of IMSCTs, but poor CNS penetration and significant toxicity limit its use. Such limitations could be overcome with local intratumoral delivery. Paclitaxel has been previously incorporated into a biodegradable gel depot delivery system (OncoGel) and in this study the authors evaluated the safety of intramedullary injections of OncoGel in rats and its efficacy against an intramedullary rat gliosarcoma.

Methods

Safety of intramedullary OncoGel was tested in 12 Fischer-344 rats using OncoGel concentrations of 1.5 and 6.0 mg/ml (5 μl); median survival and functional motor scores (Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan [BBB] scale) were compared with those obtained with placebo (ReGel) and medium-only injections. Efficacy of OncoGel was tested in 61 Fischer-344 rats implanted with an intramedullary injection of 9L gliosarcoma containing 100,000 cells in 5 μl of medium, and randomized to receive OncoGel administered on the same day (in 32 rats) or 5 days after tumor implantation (in 29 rats) using either 1.5 mg/ml or 3.0 mg/ml doses of paclitaxel. Median survival and BBB scores were compared with those of ReGel-treated and tumor-only rats. Animals were killed after the onset of deficits for histopathological analysis.

Results

OncoGel was safe for intramedullary injection in rats in doses up to 5 μl of 3.0 mg/ml of paclitaxel; a dose of 5 μl of 6.0 mg/ml caused rapid deterioration in BBB scores. OncoGel at concentrations of 1.5 mg/ml and 3.0 mg/ml paclitaxel given on both Day 0 and Day 5 prolonged median survival and preserved BBB scores compared with controls. OncoGel 1.5 mg/ml produced 62.5% long-term survivors when delivered on Day 0. A comparison between the 1.5 mg/ml and the 3.0 mg/ml doses showed higher median survival with the 1.5 mg/ml dose on Day 0, and no differences in median survival or BBB scores after treatment on Day 5.

Conclusions

OncoGel is safe for intramedullary injection in rats in doses up to 5 μl of 3.0 mg/ml, prolongs median survival, and increases functional motor scores in rats challenged with an intramedullary gliosarcoma at the doses tested. This study suggests that locally delivered chemotherapeutic agents could be of temporary benefit in the treatment of malignant IMSCTs under experimental settings.

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Gaurav Mavinkurve, Gustavo Pradilla, Federico G. Legnani, Betty M. Tyler, Carlos A. Bagley, Henry Brem, and George Jallo

Object

Survival rates for high-grade intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs) are approximately 30%, and optimal therapy has yet to be determined. Development of a satisfactory intramedullary tumor model is necessary for testing new therapeutic paradigms that may prolong survival. The authors report the technique, functional progression, radiological appearance, and histopathological features of a novel intramedullary model in rabbits.

Methods

Ten New Zealand white rabbits were randomized to receive an intramedullary injection of either 25 µl of VX2 carcinoma cells (500,000 cells; six rabbits) or 25 ml of medium (Dulbecco modified Eagle medium; four rabbits) into the midthoracic spinal cord. Postoperatively the rabbits were evaluated twice daily for neurological deficits. High-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) images were acquired preoperatively and weekly postoperatively until onset of paraparesis, at which point the animals were killed, and the midthoracic spines were processed for histopathological examination.

The VX2-carcinoma cells grew in 100% of animals injected and resulted in a statistically significant mean onset of paraparesis of 16.8 ± 1.7 days (p = 0.0035, log-rank test), compared with animals in the control group in which neurological deficits were absent by Day 45. Contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MR imaging best demonstrated space-occupying intramedullary lesions and histopathological findings confirmed the intramedullary location of the tumor. Animals in the control group exhibited no functional, radiographic, or pathological signs of tumor.

Conclusions

Progression to paraparesis was consistent in all the VX2-injected animals, with predictable onset of paraparesis occurring approximately 17 days postinjection. Histopathological and radiological characteristics of the VX2 intramedullary tumor are comparable with those of aggressive primary human IMSCTs. Establishment of this novel animal tumor model will facilitate the testing of new therapeutic paradigms for the treatment of IMSCTs.

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Patrik Gabikian, Betty M. Tyler, Irma Zhang, Khan W. Li, Henry Brem, and Kevin A. Walter

Object

The aim of this study was to demonstrate that paclitaxel could function as a radiosensitizer for malignant glioma in vitro and in vivo.

Methods

The radiosensitizing effect of paclitaxel was tested in vitro using the human U373MG and rat 9L glioma cell lines. Cell cycle arrest in response to paclitaxel exposure was quantified by flow cytometry. Cells were subsequently irradiated, and toxicity was measured using the clonogenic assay. In vivo studies were performed in Fischer 344 rats implanted with intracranial 9L gliosarcoma. Rats were treated with control polymer implants, paclitaxel controlled-release polymers, radiotherapy, or a combination of the 2 treatments. The study end point was survival.

Results

Flow cytometry demonstrated G2-M arrest in both U373MG and 9L cells following 6–12 hours of paclitaxel exposure. The order in which the combination treatment was administered was significant. Exposure to radiation treatment (XRT) during the 6–12 hours after paclitaxel treatment resulted in a synergistic reduction in colony formation. This effect was greater than the effect from either treatment alone and was also greater than the effect of radiation exposure followed by paclitaxel. Rats bearing 9L gliosarcoma tumors treated with paclitaxel polymer administration followed by single-fraction radiotherapy demonstrated a synergistic improvement in survival compared with any other treatment, including radiotherapy followed by paclitaxel treatment. Median survival for control animals was 13 days; for those treated with paclitaxel alone, 21 days; for those treated with XRT alone, 21 days; for those treated with XRT followed by paclitaxel, 45 days; and for those treated with paclitaxel followed by XRT, more than 150 days (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

These results indicate that paclitaxel is an effective radiosensitizer for malignant gliomas because it renders glioma cells more sensitive to ionizing radiation by causing G2-M arrest, and induces a synergistic response to chemoradiotherapy.

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Rita Sattler, Betty Tyler, Benjamin Hoover, Luke T. Coddington, Violette Recinos, Lee Hwang, Henry Brem, and Jeffrey D. Rothstein

Object

Gliomas are known to release excessive amounts of glutamate, inducing glutamate excitotoxic cell death in the peritumoral region and allowing the tumor to grow and to expand. Glutamate transporter upregulation has been shown to be neuroprotective by removing extracellular glutamate in a number of preclinical animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson disease as well as psychiatric disorders such as depression. The authors therefore hypothesized that the protective mechanism of glutamate transporter upregulation would be useful for the treatment of gliomas as well.

Methods

In this study 9L gliosarcoma cells were treated with a glutamate transporter upregulating agent, thiamphenicol, an antibiotic approved in Europe, which has been shown previously to increase glutamate transporter expression and has recently been validated in a human Phase I biomarker trial for glutamate transporter upregulation. Cells were monitored in vitro for glutamate transporter levels and cell proliferation. In vivo, rats were injected intracranially with 9L cells and were treated with increasing doses of thiamphenicol. Animals were monitored for survival. In addition, postmortem brain tissue was analyzed for tumor size, glutamate transporter levels, and neuron count.

Results

Thiamphenicol showed little effects on proliferation of 9L gliosarcoma cells in vitro and did not change glutamate transporter levels in these cells. However, when delivered locally in an experimental glioma model in rats, thiamphenicol dose dependently (10–5000 μM) significantly increased survival up to 7 days and concomitantly decreased tumor size from 46.2 mm2 to 10.2 mm2 when compared with lesions in nontreated controls. Furthermore, immunohistochemical and biochemical analysis of peritumoral tissue confirmed an 84% increase in levels of glutamate transporter protein and a 72% increase in the number of neuronal cells in the tissue adjacent to the tumor.

Conclusions

These results show that increasing glutamate transporter expression in peritumoral tissue is neuroprotective. It suggests that glutamate transporter upregulation for the treatment of gliomas should be further investigated and potentially be part of a combination therapy with standard chemotherapeutic agents.

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Ajay Mantha, Federico G. Legnani, Carlos A. Bagley, Gary L. Gallia, Ira Garonzik, Gustavo Pradilla, Eric Amundson, Betty M. Tyler, Henry Brem, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object. Although metastatic spinal disease constitutes a significant percentage of all spinal column tumors, an accessible and reproducible animal model has not been reported. In this study the authors describe the technique for creating an intraosseous spinal tumor model in rats and present a functional and histological analysis.

Methods. Eighteen female Fischer 344 rats were randomized into two groups. Group 1 animals underwent a transabdominal exposure and implantation of CRL-1666 breast adenocarcinoma into the L-6 vertebral body (VB). Animals in Group 2 underwent a sham operation. Hindlimb function was tested daily by using the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan scale. Sixteen days after tumor implantation, animals were killed and their spines were removed for histological assessment. Statistical analysis was performed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

By Day 15 functional analysis showed a significant decrease in motor function in Group 1 animals (median functional score 2 of 21) compared with Group 2 rats (median functional score 21 of 21) (p = 0.0217). The onset of paraparesis in Group 1 occurred within 14 to 16 days of surgery. Histopathological analysis showed tumor proliferation through the VB and into the spinal canal, with marked osteolytic activity and spinal cord compression.

Conclusions. Analysis of these findings demonstrates the consistency of tumor growth in this model and validates the utility of functional testing for onset of paresis. This new rat model allows for the preclinical evaluation of novel therapeutic treatments for patients harboring metastatic spine disease.

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Francesco Dimeco, Laurence D. Rhines, Justin Hanes, Betty M. Tyler, Daniel Brat, Elena Torchiana, Michael Guarnieri, Mario P. Colombo, Drew M. Pardoll, Gaetano Finocchiaro, Henry Brem, and Alessandro Olivi

Object. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) has potential for the treatment of tumors because it can stimulate an antitumor immune response and possesses antiangiogenic properties. In the study reported here, the authors investigated the therapeutic role of locally delivered IL-12 in a malignant brain tumor model.

Methods. After genetically engineering 9L gliosarcoma cells to express IL-12 (9L-IL12 cells), the authors used these cells as a source of locally delivered cytokine. First, they investigated the behavior of these cells, which were implanted with the aid of stereotactic guidance into the rat brain, by using serial magnetic resonance imaging and histopathological examination. Second, they assessed the antitumor efficacy of proliferating, as well as nonproliferating (irradiated), 9L-IL12 cells by implanting these cells in animals challenged by wild-type 9L gliosarcoma (9Lwt) cells. The IL-12 expression in brain regions injected with 9L-IL12 was confirmed by reverse transcription—polymerase chain reaction. Last, the authors explored whether animals treated with 9L-IL12 cells developed an antitumor immunological memory by rechallenging the survivors with a second injection of 9Lwt cells.

The authors demonstrated that local delivery of IL-12 into the rat brain by genetically engineered cells significantly prolongs survival time in animals challenged intracranially with a malignant glioma.

Conclusions. These findings support continued efforts to refine local delivery systems of IL-12 in an attempt to bring this therapy to clinical trials.