In vivo antitumor activity of pegylated zinc protoporphyrin: Targeted inhibition of heme oxygenase in solid tumor

Jun Fang, Tomohiro Sawa, Takaaki Akaike, Teruo Akuta, Sanjeeb K. Sahoo, Greish Khaled, Akinobu Hamada, Hiroshi Maeda

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213 Citations (Scopus)


High expression of the inducible isoform of heme oxygenase (HO-1) is now well known in solid tumors in humans and experimental animal models. We reported previously that HO-1 may be involved in tumor growth (Tanaka et al., Br. J. Cancer, 88: 902-909, 2003), in that inhibition of HO activity in tumors by using zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP) significantly reduced tumor growth in a rat model. We demonstrate here that poly(ethylene glycol)-conjugated ZnPP (PEG-ZnPP), a water-soluble derivative of ZnPP, exhibited potent HO inhibitory activity and had an antitumor effect in vivo. In vitro studies with cultured SW480 cells, which express HO-1, showed that PEG-ZnPP induced oxidative stress, and consequently apoptotic death, of these cells. Pharmacokinetic analysis revealed that PEG-ZnPP-administered i.v. had a circulation time in blood that was 40 times longer than that for nonpegylated ZnPP. More important, PEG-ZnPP preferentially accumulated in solid tumor tissue in a murine model. In vivo treatment with PEG-ZnPP (equivalent to 1.5 or 5 mg of ZnPP/kg, i.v., injected daily for 6 days) remarkably suppressed the growth of Sarcoma 180 tumors implanted in the dorsal skin of ddY mice without any apparent side effects. In addition, this PEG-ZnPP treatment produced tumor-selective suppression of HO activity as well as induction of apoptosis. The major reason for tumor-selective targeting of PEG-ZnPP is attributed to the enhanced permeability and retention effect that is observed commonly in solid tumors for biocompatible macromolecular drugs. These findings suggest that tumor-targeted inhibition of HO activity could be achieved by using PEG-ZnPP, which induces apoptosis in solid tumors, probably through increased oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3567-3574
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jul 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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