Synergistic Inhibition of Endothelial Cell Proliferation, Tube Formation, and Sprouting by Cyclosporin A and Itraconazole
by Benjamin A. Nacev, Jun O. Liu
Pathological angiogenesis contributes to a number of diseases including cancer and macular degeneration. Although angiogenesis inhibitors are available in the clinic, their efficacy against most cancers is modest due in part to the existence of alternative and compensatory signaling pathways. Given that angiogenesis is dependent on multiple growth factors and a broad signaling network in vivo, we sought to explore the potential of multidrug cocktails for angiogenesis inhibition. We have screened 741 clinical drug combinations for the synergistic inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation. We focused specifically on existing clinical drugs since the re-purposing of clinical drugs allows for a more rapid and cost effective transition to clinical studies when compared to new drug entities. Our screen identified cyclosporin A (CsA), an immunosuppressant, and itraconazole, an antifungal drug, as a synergistic pair of inhibitors of endothelial cell proliferation. In combination, the IC50 dose of each drug is reduced by 3 to 9 fold. We also tested the ability of the combination to inhibit endothelial cell tube formation and sprouting, which are dependent on two essential processes in angiogenesis, endothelial cell migration and differentiation. We found that CsA and itraconazole synergistically inhibit tube network size and sprout formation. Lastly, we tested the combination on human foreskin fibroblast viability as well as Jurkat T cell and HeLa cell proliferation, and found that endothelial cells are selectively targeted. Thus, it is possible to combine existing clinical drugs to synergistically inhibit in vitro models of angiogenesis. This strategy may be useful in pursuing the next generation of antiangiogenesis therapy.
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