Aim: To investigate the effect and possible mechanisms of antiangiogenesis therapy for HCC in rats. Methods: Adult-male LEW/SsN rats were divided into 3 groups, 25 animals each. Group A was the control group. Groups B and C were given diethylnitrosamine, 5 mg/kg/d. In addition, group C rats received an intraperitoneal injection of fumagillin, 30 mg/(kg·d). Five animals in each group were killed at 6th, 12th, 18th, 20th and 24th wk to evaluate the development of HCC and metastasis. Weight of the rats, liver tumors, and number of organs involved by HCC were measured at each stage. We compared methionine aminopeptidase-2 (MetAP-2) mRNA, Bcl-2 mRNA, telomerase mRNA, and telomerase activity at 24th wk in the liver tissue of group A rats and tumor tissue of HCC from group B and C rats. Result: No HCC developed in group A, but tumors were present in group B and C rats by the 18th wk. At wk 20 and 24, the median liver weight in group B was 0.64 g (range: 0.58-0.70 g) and 0.79 g (range: 0.70-0.90 g) (P = 0.04), and that in group C was 0.37 g (range: 0.35-0.42 g) and 0.39 g (range: 0.35-0.47 g) (P = 0.67). The liver weight in group C rats was significantly lower than that in group B rats (P = 0.009). At the same time, the median metastasis score (number of organ systems involved) was 3 (range2-3) in group B, and 1 (range 1-2) in group C, a significant difference between the groups (P = 0.007, 0.004). The levels of MetAP-2 mRNA were significantly higher in groups B and C than in group A (P = 0.025), and significantly higher in group C than in group B (P = 0.047). The level of Bcl-2 mRNA was significantly higher in group B than in group A (P = 0.024), but lower in group C than in group B, although not significantly (P = 0.072). Telomerase mRNA was significantly higher in group B than in group A (P = 0.025), but significantly lower in group C than in group B (P = 0.016). The same inter-group relationship was also true for telomerase activity (P = 0.025 and 0.046). Conclusion: Fumagillin effectively inhibits both liver tumor growth and metastasis in rats in vivo. A possible mechanism is fumagillin-induced inhibition of MetAP-2, which plays an essential role in endothelial cell proliferation. Inhibition of MetAP-2 also results in inhibition of Bcl-2 and telomerase activity.
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