Factors and mechanism of "EPR" effect and the enhanced antitumor effects of macromolecular drugs including SMANCS

Jun Fang, Tomohiro Sawa, Hiroshi Maeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Citations (Scopus)


Both enhanced vascular permeability and angiogenesis of tumor sustain rapid growth of tumor involving many vascular mediators and high vascular density. On the contrary, however, they can be utilized for macromolecular drug delivery to tumor. Impaired reticuloendothelial/lymphatic clearance of macromolecules from the tumor, or lack of such clearance, is another unique characteristic of tumor tissue, which results intratumor retention of macromolecular drugs thus delivered (Figure 1). Consequently, enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect is the basis for the selective targeting of macromolecular drugs to tumor, and the EPR concept is now utilized for selective delivery of many macromolecular anticancer agents in aqueous formation for i.v. or i.a. as well as oily formation for i.a. dosing, which is not possible for low-molecular-weight drugs because of rapid washout by capillary vascular blood flow. This EPR concept has been validated in clinical settings with hepatoma and other solid tumors 3, 8, 48-53. In our laboratories, several promising macromolecular anticancer drugs after SMANCS, such as PEG-XO, PEG-DAO, PEG-ZnPP, were developed, warranting further investigation for clinical application. More efficient drug delivery to tumor, especially of macromolecular drugs, may be possible by enhancing the EPR effect with the use of various vascular permeability mediators or potentiators. Suppression of the EPR effect by the use of appropriate inhibitors or antidotes, such as the bradykinin antagonist HOE 140 and protease inhibitors or NOS inhibitors, may also be possible. Thus, one may be able to suppress or retard tumor growth and tumor metastasis. Also, by suppressing vascular permeability with antidotes such as the bradykinin antagonist HOE 140, pleural fluid in lung cancer and ascitic fluid in abdominal carcinomatosis may be controlled and the clinical course of cancer patients may be improved. In summary, tumor vasculature can be an excellent target for delivery of macromolecular anticancer drugs; the most beneficial class of drugs in view of rumor-selective targeting based on the EPR effect in solid tumor as well as compliance of patients and ultimate therapeutic efficacy 3, 4, 8, 50-54,61.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-49
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in experimental medicine and biology
Publication statusPublished - 2003 May 26

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Factors and mechanism of "EPR" effect and the enhanced antitumor effects of macromolecular drugs including SMANCS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this