Open Access Research article

The influence of the combined treatment with Vadimezan (ASA404) and taxol on the growth of U251 glioblastoma xenografts

Dušan Milanović14*, Friederike Braun2, Wolfgang Weber2, Anca Ligia Grosu1, Martin Behe3 and Gabriele Niedermann1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg 79106, Germany

2 Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg 79106, Germany

3 Paul Scherer Institut, Center for Radiopharmaceutical Sciences, Wolfgang-Pauli Strasse 10, Zurich CH-8093, Switzerland

4 University Hospital Freiburg, Department of Radiation Oncology, Robert Koch Strasse 3, Freiburg D-79106, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:242  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-242

Published: 13 June 2012



One of the most important biological characteristics of Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is high vascular density. Vadimezan (ASA404, DMXAA) belongs to the class of small molecule vascular disrupting agents (VDA) that cause disruption of established tumor vessels and subsequent tumor hemorrhagic necrosis. Its selective antivascular effect is mediated by intratumoral induction of several cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α). Preclinical studies have demonstrated that ASA404 acts synergistically with taxanes. In this study, we investigated if treatment of mice bearing U251 human glioblastoma xenografts with ASA404 and taxol may be synergistic. Therapy response was evaluated by measuring changes in tumor size and metabolic activity using 18F-FDG PET (Fluorodeoxyglucose - positron emision tomography) imaging.


U251 cells were inoculated s.c. in the right hind limb of NMRI-Foxn1nu athymic female nude mice. Animals were randomly assigned into 4 groups (7–9 animals/group) for treatment: control, taxol, ASA404, and ASA404 plus taxol. The animals received either a single dose of taxol (10 mg/kg), ASA404 (27.5 mg/kg), or taxol (10 mg/kg) plus ASA404 (27.5 mg/kg) administered i.p.; ASA404 was administred 24 h after the treatment with taxol. 4 and 24 h after treatment with ASA404 (28 and 48 h hours after treatment with taxol) 18 F-FDG PET scans were performed.


The treatment with taxol did not affect the tumor growth in comparison to untreated controls. The treatment of animals with single dose ASA404 alone or in combination with taxol caused a significant delay in tumor growth. The combined treatment did not decrease the growth of the xenografts significantly more than ASA404 alone, but early changes in tumor 18 F-FDG uptake preceded subsequent growth inhibition. The tumor weights, which were determined at the end of treatment, were lower in case of combined treatment.


The treatment with ASA404 alone or in combination with taxol showed antitumoral effects in our glioblastoma model probably through destruction of blood vessels. The implications for the anticancer effect of this compound warrant further preclinical studies. 18F-FDG PET appears to be a promising tool to monitor treatment with ASA404 early in the course of therapy.