Successful treatment of solid tumors with chemotherapeutics requires that adequate levels reach the tumor cells. Tumor vascular normalization has been proposed to enhance drug delivery and improve tumor response to chemotherapy. Differently, augmenting leakage of the tumor-associated vasculature, and as such enhance vascular abnormality, may improve tumor response as well. In the present study, we show that addition of low-dose tumor necrosis factor α (TNF) to systemic injections with pegylated long circulating liposomes augmented the tumor accumulation of these liposomes 5- to 6-fold, which strongly correlated with enhanced tumor response. Using intravital microscopy, we could study the liposomal distribution inside the tumor in more detail. Especially 100 nm liposomes effectively extravasate in the surrounding tumor tissue in the presence of TNF and this occurred without any effect on tumor vascular density, branching, and diameter. Next to that, we observed in living animals that tumor cells take up the liposomes intact, followed by intracellular degradation. To our knowledge, this is an unprecedented observation. Taken together, TNF renders more tumor vessels permeable, leading to a more homogeneous distribution of the liposomes throughout the tumor, which is crucial for an optimal tumor response. We conclude that delivery of nanoparticulate drug formulations to solid tumor benefits from augmenting the vascular leakage through vascular manipulation with vasoactive drugs like TNF.

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Journal Cancer Research
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