Recombinant human erythropoietin alpha improves the efficacy of radiotherapy of a human tumor xenograft, affecting tumor cells and microvessels

József Lövey, Bíborka Bereczky, Réka Gilly, István Kenessey, Erzsébet Rásó, Erika Simon, Judit Dobos, Ágnes Vágó, Miklós Kásler, Balázs Döme, József Tímár, József Tóvári

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Background and Purpose: Tumor-induced anemia often occurs in cancer patients, and is corrected by recombinant human erythropoietins (rHuEPOs). Recent studies indicated that, besides erythroid progenitor cells, tumor and endothelial cells express erythropoietin receptor (EPOR) as well; therefore, rHuEPO may affect their functions. Here, the effect of rHuEPOα on irradiation in EPOR-positive human squamous cell carcinoma xenograft was tested. Material and Methods: A431 tumor-bearing SCID mice were treated from the tumor implantation with rHuEPOα at human-equivalent dose. Xenografts were irradiated (5 Gy) on day 14, and the final tumor mass was measured on day 22. The systemic effects of rHuEPOα on the hemoglobin level, on tumor-associated blood vessels and on hypoxia-inducible factor-(HIF-)1α expression of the tumor xenografts were monitored. The proliferation, apoptosis and clonogenic capacity of A431 cancer cells treated with rHuEPOα and irradiation were also tested in vitro. Results: In vitro, rHuEPOα treatment alone did not modify the proliferation of EPOR-positive A431 tumor cells but enhanced the effect of irradiation on proliferation, apoptosis and clonogenic capacity. In vivo, rHuEPOα administration compensated the tumor-induced anemia in SCID mice and decreased tumoral HIF-1α expression but had no effect on tumor growth. At the same time rHuEPOα treatment significantly increased the efficacy of radiotherapy in vivo (tumor weight of 23.9 ± 4.7 mg and 34.9 ± 4.6 mg, respectively), mediated by increased tumoral blood vessel destruction. Conclusion: rHuEPOα treatment may modulate the efficacy of cancer radiotherapy not only by reducing systemic hypoxia and tumoral HIF-1α expression, but also by destroying tumoral vessels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2008



  • Human squamous cell carcinoma
  • Radiation therapy
  • Recombinant human erythropoietin alpha
  • Tumor xenograft model
  • Tumor-induced angiogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Oncology

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