Inhibition of tyrosine kinase receptors by SU6668 promotes abnormal stromal development at the periphery of carcinomas
Dynamic contrast-enhanced (albumin-Gd-DTPA) magnetic resonance imaging, performed during 2 weeks of daily administration of an inhibitor of tyrosine kinase receptors (SU6668) in an HT-29 colon carcinoma model, revealed the onset of a hyper-enhancing rim, not observed in untreated tumours. To account for tissue heterogeneity in the quantitative analysis, we segmented tumours into three subunits automatically identified by cluster analysis of the enhancement curves using a k-means algorithm. Transendothelial permeability (Kps) and fractional plasma volume (fPV) were calculated in each subunit. An avascular and necrotic region, an intermediate zone and a well-vascularised periphery were reliably identified. During untreated tumour growth, the identified sub-regions did not substantially change their enhancement pattern. Treatment with SU6668 induced major changes at tumour periphery where a significant increase of Kps and fPV was observed with respect to control tumours. Histology revealed a sub-capsular layer composed of hyper-dense viable tumour cells in the periphery of untreated tumours. The rim of viable neoplastic cells was reduced in treated tumours, and replaced by loose connective tissue characterised by numerous vessels, which explains the observed hyper-enhancement. The present data show a peripheral abnormal development of cancer-associated stroma, indicative of an adaptive response to anti-angiogenic treatment.