Irinotecan is a widely used topoisomerase-I-inhibitor with a very narrow therapeutic window because of its severe toxicity. In the current study we have examined the effects of fasting prior to irinotecan treatment on toxicity and anti-tumor activity. FabplCre;Apc15lox/+ mice, which spontaneously develop intestinal tumors, of 27 weeks of age were randomized into 3-day fasted and ad libitum fed groups, followed by treatment with a flat-fixed high dose of irinotecan or vehicle. Side-effects were recorded until 11 days after the start of the experiment. Tumor size, and markers for cell-cycle activity, proliferation, angiogenesis, and senescence were measured. Fasted mice were protected against the side-effects of irinotecan treatment. Ad libitum fed mice developed visible signs of discomfort including weight loss, lower activity, ruffled coat, hunched-back posture, diarrhea, and leukopenia. Irinotecan reduced tumor size in fasted and ad libitum fed groups similarly compared to untreated controls (2.4 ± 0.67 mm and 2.4 ± 0.82 mm versus 3.0 ± 1.05 mm and 2.8 ± 1.08 mm respectively, P < 0.001). Immunohistochemical analysis showed reduced proliferation, a reduced number of vascular endothelial cells, and increased levels of senescence in tumors of both irinotecan treated groups. In conclusion, 3 days of fasting protects against the toxic side-effects of irinotecan in a clinically relevant mouse model of spontaneously developing colorectal cancer without affecting its anti-tumor activity. These results support fasting as a powerful way to improve treatment of colorectal carcinoma patients.

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Keywords APC, Colorectal cancer, Fasting, Irinotecan, Mouse models
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Journal Cell Cycle
Huisman, S.A, Bijman-Lagcher, W. (Wendy), IJzermans, J.N.M, Smits, M.J.M, & de Bruin, R.W.F. (2015). Fasting protects against the side effects of irinotecan but preserves its anti-tumor effect in Apc15lox mutant mice. Cell Cycle, 14(14), 2333–2339. doi:10.1080/15384101.2015.1044170