Itraconazole inhibits angiogenesis and tumor growth in non-small cell lung cancer.
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
The antiangiogenic agent bevacizumab has been approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), although the survival benefit associated with this agent is marginal, and toxicities and cost are substantial. A recent screen for selective inhibitors of endothelial cell proliferation identified the oral antifungal drug itraconazole as a novel agent with potential antiangiogenic activity. In this article, we define and characterize the antiangiogenic and anticancer activities of itraconazole in relevant preclinical models of angiogenesis and lung cancer. Itraconazole consistently showed potent, specific, and dose-dependent inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation in response to both VEGF- and basic fibroblast growth factor-mediated angiogenic stimulation. In vivo, using primary xenograft models of human NSCLC, oral itraconazole showed single-agent growth-inhibitory activity associated with induction of tumor hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha expression and marked inhibition of tumor vascularity. Itraconazole significantly enhanced the antitumor efficacy of the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin in the same model systems. Taken together, these data suggest that itraconazole has potent and selective inhibitory activity against multiple key aspects of tumor-associated angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo, and strongly support clinical translation of its use. Based on these observations, we have initiated a randomized phase II study comparing the efficacy of standard cytotoxic therapy with or without daily oral itraconazole in patients with recurrent metastatic NSCLC.