Background: Irinotecan use is limited due to severe toxicity. Preconditioning by fasting (PBF) protects against side effects of irinotecan while preserving its antitumor activity. The mechanisms underlying the effects of PBF still need to be elucidated. Here, we investigated the transcriptional responses of PBF on irinotecan in both tumor and healthy liver tissue. Experimental approach: Male BALB/c mice were subcutaneously injected with C26 colon carcinoma cells. Twelve days after tumor inoculation, two groups were fasted for three days and two groups were allowed food ad libitum (AL). Subsequently, both groups received one dose of irinotecan. Twelve hours after administration mice were sacrificed and blood, tumor and liver tissue were harvested. Blood samples were analyzed to determine liver, kidney and bone marrow function, tissues were used for transcriptome analyses. Key results: The AL irinotecan group showed worsened organ function and decreased leukocyte numbers. These effects were abated in PBF animals. PBF led to an altered transcriptional response in the liver of irinotecan-treated mice, including decreased cellular injury and increased stress resistance. Hepatic metabolism of irinotecan was also significantly changed due to PBF. The transcriptional response of tumor tissue observed after PBF was hardly affected compared to AL fed animals. Conclusions: Transcriptional changes after PBF to irinotecan treatment showed an improved protective stress response in healthy liver but not in tumor tissue, including changes in irinotecan metabolism. These data help to unravel the mechanisms underlying the effects of fasting on irinotecan and help to improve outcome of chemotherapeutic treatment in cancer patients.

fasting, colorectal carcinoma, irinotecan, transcriptome analysis, stress resistance
Department of General Practice

Jongbloed, F., Huisman, S.A., van Steeg, H, Pennings, J.L.A, IJzermans, J.N.M, Dollé, M.E.T., & de Bruin, R.W.F. (2019). The transcriptomic response to irinotecan in colon carcinoma bearing mice preconditioned by fasting. Oncotarget, 10(22), 2224–2234. Retrieved from