Potentiation of radiation therapy by vinorelbine (Navelbine) in non-small cell lung cancer.
Vinorelbine (Navelbine; Burroughs Wellcome Co, Research Triangle Park, NC; Pierre Fabre Medicament, Paris, France), a semisynthetic vinca alkaloid that is a potent inhibitor of mitotic microtubule polymerization, was recently approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Radiotherapy also has been widely used to treat this malignancy. Since other antitumor agents that act on microtubules, such as paclitaxel and estramustine, have been shown to act as radiosensitizers, we studied the ability of vinorelbine to potentiate radiation. The in vitro activity of this combination was evaluated in the human lung carcinoma cell lines NCI-H460 and A549. when NCI-H460 cells were exposed to vinorelbine for 24 hours and then irradiated (1 to 6 Gy) the drug potentiated radiation in a dose-dependent manner, with the ratio of fractional survival (radiation) to fractional survival (drug plus radiation) ranging from 1.7:1 at 1 Gy to 5.5:1 at 6 Gy. When the treatment sequence was reversed (ie, radiation was followed by drug exposure), similar survival ratios were obtained at concentrations of vinorelbine that were five to 10 times lower. In this cell line radiation produced a block in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, with the maximum block (60% to 70%) occurring 10 hours after treatment. The greatest potentiation was seen when irradiated cells were exposed to vinorelbine after they had plateaued in the G2/M phase of the cycle. Vinorelbine given early after irradiation, when only 10% to 30% of the cells were in G2/M, produced survival ratios similar to those of controls treated with radiation alone. In A549 cells radiation induced a G1 block. In this case, vinorelbine was unable to potentiate the effects of radiation. These studies show that vinorelbine can potentiate the antitumor effects of radiation and that the potentiation is cell cycle-dependent, with the maximal effect being obtained when the cells are in the G2 phase.
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