Effect of erythropoietin on human tumor growth in xenograft models
Recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) has been used in the EU and the United States for the treatment of anemia in cancer patients after myelosuppressive chemotherapy or radiotherapy. However, several conflicting results have been reported concerning the detrimental effect of rhEPO on survival benefit in cancer patients. In experimental studies, contradictory results were also reported in in vitro tumor cell proliferation studies and in vivo tumor growth studies using tumor cells expressing EPO-receptor (EPO-R). Therefore, we tried to clarify the effect of epoetin β, a product of rhEPO, on tumor growth in xenograft models using five EPO-R-positive human cancer cell lines, namely the MCF7 breast, 786-O renal, SCH gastric, A549 lung and SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cell lines. Epoetin β was administered once a week for 3 weeks at doses of 1,000, 3,000 and 10,000 IU/kg in accordance with the clinical administration schedule and dosages. As a result, no enhancement of tumor growth from the administration of epoetin β was observed in any of the xenograft models throughout the experiment duration. The effect of epoetin β on the antitumor activity of bevacizumab, an anti-angiogenic agent, was additionally examined using A549 and MCF7 xenograft models, since rhEPO reportedly stimulates tumor neovascularization. Epoetin β showed no significant effect on the antitumor activity of bevacizumab in either xenograft model. These findings suggest that epoetin β is not involved in in vivo tumor growth promotion.