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Tumoral response and tumoral phenotypic changes in a rat model of diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatocellular carcinoma after salirasib and sorafenib administration

Authors Ciccarelli O, Colson A, De Saeger C, Reding R, Sempoux C, Leclercq IA, Stärkel P

Received 16 June 2018

Accepted for publication 21 September 2018

Published 17 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 7143—7153

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OTT.S176903

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Faris Farassati


Olga Ciccarelli,1,2 Arthur Colson,1 Christine De Saeger,1 Raymond Reding,2 Christine Sempoux,3 Isabelle A Leclercq,1 Peter Stärkel1,4

1Laboratory of Hepato-Gastroenterology, Institut de Recherche Expérimentale et Clinique, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium; 2Department of Surgery and Abdominal Transplantation, St Luc University Hospital, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium; 3Service of Clinical Pathology, Lausanne University Hospital, Institute of Pathology, Lausanne, Switzerland; 4Department of Gastroenterology, St Luc University Hospital, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium

Background: Several intracellular signaling pathways that are deregulated during hepatocarcinogenesis might constitute potential targets for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) therapy. The aim of this study was to test the potential synergic antitumor effect of salirasib and sorafenib in a diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced HCC model in rat. The hypothesis of tumor phenotype changes during treatment was also analyzed.
Materials and methods: DEN was administered to Wistar rats during 9 weeks to induce cirrhosis and liver cancer. After tumor development, rats were treated with intraperitoneal injections of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), or salirasib, and/or with oral sorafenib 5 days/week, during 4 weeks. At sacrifice, number and size of liver tumors as well as tumor burden were recorded, and all liver tumors were processed for histological and immunohistological analyses.
Results: Mortality rate was significantly higher in rats treated with salirasib and/or sorafenib than in the control group (P=0.001). Tumor burden was smaller in the treated group compared with the DMSO control group (P=0.044), but a synergistic effect of the two chemotherapies could not be observed. In 62.5% of rats (10/16) treated with salirasib and/or sorafenib, a cytokeratin-7 and -19-positive hepatocholangiocellular carcinoma (HCC/CHC) was found vs 20% (5/25) developing such phenotype in the DMSO control group (P=0.018). Ki67 immunostaining showed significantly reduced tumor cell proliferation in treated rats (P=0.001), whereas apoptosis as assessed by caspase-3 activity in cell lysate was similar in all groups.
Conclusions: The addition of sorafenib to salirasib did not seem to provide any synergistic therapeutic effect in this study. Both chemotherapeutic agents, administered alone or in combination, induced tumoral phenotypic changes in the majority of rats, a finding not associated with an increased tumor cell proliferation or decreased apoptosis. The rat model described in this work constitutes the first experimental tool generating putatively more aggressive combined HCC/CHC tumors following chemotherapy. Further work is required to better characterize this clinically relevant phenomenon.

Keywords: liver neoplasms, chemotherapy, disease management, liver transplantation

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