Research Papers:

Targeting Syndecan-1, a molecule implicated in the process of vasculogenic mimicry, enhances the therapeutic efficacy of the L19-IL2 immunocytokine in human melanoma xenografts

Paola Orecchia, Romana Conte, Enrica Balza, Gabriella Pietra, Maria Cristina Mingari and Barbara Carnemolla _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:37426-37442. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6055

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Paola Orecchia1,3, Romana Conte1, Enrica Balza2, Gabriella Pietra1,3, Maria Cristina Mingari1,3 and Barbara Carnemolla1

1 Laboratory of Immunology, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy

2 Laboratory of Cell Biology, IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Genoa, Italy

3 Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

Correspondence to:

Barbara Carnemolla, email:

Keywords: vasculogenic/vascular mimicry, angiogenesis, scFv OC-46F2 anti Syndecan-1, melanoma combined therapy, immunocytokine L19-IL2

Received: June 16, 2015 Accepted: September 23, 2015 Published: October 09, 2015


Anti-angiogenic therapy of solid tumors has until now failed to produce the long lasting clinical benefits desired, possibly due to the complexity of the neoangiogenic process. Indeed, a prominent role is played by “vasculogenic” or “vascular” mimicry (VM), a phenomenon in which aggressive cancer cells form an alternative microvascular circulation, independently of endothelial cell angiogenesis. In this study we observed, in melanoma patient cell lines having vasculogenic/stem-cell like phenotype and in melanoma tumors, the Syndecan-1 co-expression with VM markers, such as CD144 and VEGFR-2. We show that melanoma cells lose their ability to form tubule-like structures in vitro after blocking Syndecan-1 activity by the specific human recombinant antibody, OC-46F2. Moreover, in a human melanoma xenograft model, the combined therapy using OC-46F2 and L19-IL2, an immunocytokine specific for the tumor angiogenic-associated B-fibronectin isoform(B-FN), led to a complete inhibition of tumor growth until day 90 from tumor implantation in 71% of treated mice, with statistically significant differences compared to groups treated with OC-46F2 or L19-IL2 as monotherapy. Furthermore, in the tumors recovered from mice treated with OC-46F2 either as monotherapy or in combination with L19-IL2, we observed a dramatic decrease of vascular density and loss of VM structures. These findings indicate for the first time a role of Syndecan-1 in melanoma VM and that targeting Syndecan-1, together with B-FN, could be promising in improving the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

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