Combination of 13-Cis retinoic acid and lovastatin: Marked antitumor potential in vivo in a pheochromocytoma allograft model in female athymic nude mice

Svenja Nölting, Alessio Giubellino, Yasin Tayem, Karen Young, Michael Lauseker, Petra Bullova, Jan Schovanek, Miriam Anver, Stephanie Fliedner, Márta Korbonits, Burkhard Gok̈e, George Vlotides, Ashley Grossman, Karel Pacak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Currently, there are no reliably effective therapeutic options for metastatic pheochromocytoma (PCC) and paraganglioma. Moreover, there are no therapies that may prevent the onset or progression of tumors in patients with succinate dehydrogenase type B mutations, which are associated with very aggressive tumors. Therefore, we tested the approved and well-tolerated drugs lovastatin and 13-cis-retinoic acid (13cRA) in vitro in an aggressive PCC mouse cell line, mouse tumor tissue-derived (MTT) cells, and in vivo in a PCC allograft nude mouse model, in therapeutically relevant doses. Treatment was started 24 hours before sc tumor cell injection and continued for 30 more days. Tumor sizes were measured from outside by caliper and sizes of viable tumor mass by bioluminescence imaging. Lovastatin showed antiproliferative effects in vitro and led to significantly smaller tumor sizes in vivo compared with vehicle treatment. 13cRA promoted tumor cell growth in vitro and led to significantly larger viable tumor mass and significantly faster increase of viable tumor mass in vivo over time compared with vehicle, lovastatin, and combination treatment. However, when combined with lovastatin, 13cRA enhanced the antiproliferative effect of lovastatin in vivo. The combination-treated mice showed slowest tumor growth of all groups with significantly slower tumor growth compared with the vehicle-treated mice and significantly smaller tumor sizes. Moreover, the combination-treated group displayed the smallest size of viable tumor mass and the slowest increase in viable tumor mass over time of all groups, with a significant difference compared with the vehicle- and 13cRA-treated group. The combination-treated tumors showed highest extent of necrosis, lowest median microvessel density and highest expression of α-smooth muscle actin. The combination of high microvessel density and low α-smooth muscle actin is a predictor of poor prognosis in other tumor entities. Therefore, this drug combination may be a well-tolerated novel therapeutic or preventive option for malignant PCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2377-2390
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


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