Intratracheally administered 5-azacytidine is effective against orthotopic human lung cancer xenograft models and devoid of important systemic toxicity

Sameer Mahesh, Ashish Saxena, Xuan Qiu, Roman Perez-Soler, Yiyu Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Hypermethylation of key tumor suppressor genes plays an important role in lung carcinogenesis. The purpose of this study is to explore the therapeutic potential of regional administration (via the airways) of the demethylating agent 5-azacytidine (5-Aza) for the treatment of early lung cancer. Patients and Methods: We administered 5-Aza solution directly into the trachea in imprinting control region (ICR) mice (to study its toxicity) and in nude mice bearing orthotopic human lung cancer xenografts (to assess its antitumor activity). Results: In vitro, 5-Aza inhibited the growth of human lung cancer cell lines H226, H358, and H460 in a dose-dependent manner. The concentrations to inhibit cell growth by 50% (IC50) were about 0.6-4.9 μg/mL. 5-Azacytidine reversed hypermethylation in the promoter of tumor suppressor gene RASSF1a in the H226 cells at a 6000-fold lower concentration than its IC50. In animal studies, intratracheal (I.T.) administration of 90 mg/kg 5-Aza (the maximum tolerated dose of 5-Aza intravenous injection [I.V.]) resulted in moderate pulmonary toxicity and 5-fold reduced myelosuppression compared with the same dose of I.V. 5-Aza. Using an optimized multiple dose schedule, I.T. 5-Aza was about 3-fold more effective than I.V. 5-Aza in prolonging the survival of mice bearing orthotopic H460 and H358 xenografts, and did not cause any detectable toxicity. Conclusion: 5-Azacytidine can reverse the hypermethylation in the human lung cancer cell lines at a nontoxic dose. Regional administration to the airways enhances the therapeutic index of 5-Aza by 75-fold. The potential of regional administration of 5-Aza (including by aerosolization) for the treatment of advanced bronchial premalignancy deserves further investigation. Copyright Clearance Center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-411
Number of pages7
JournalClinical lung cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010



  • Aerosol administration
  • Airway epithelium
  • Demethylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research

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