Ex-vivo activation of a liposomal prodrug of mitomycin C by human tumors

Shira Dorot, James Tankel, Victoria Doviner, Hilary Shmeeda, Yasmine Amitay, Patricia Ohana, Amir Dagan, Menachem Ben-Haim, Petachia Reissman, Alberto Gabizon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To examine the ex- vivo ability of explanted human tumors and normal tissue to activate liposomal mitomycin C lipidic prodrug (MLP) by releasing the active free drug form, mitomycin C (MMC). Methods: We tested conversion of MLP to MMC in an ex vivo assay using explanted tissues obtained during routine surgery to remove primary tumors or metastases. Tumor and adjacent normal tissue were obtained from freshly explanted tumors and were immediately deep frozen at − 70 °C. On test day, the fragments were thawed, homogenized and incubated in the presence of a fixed amount of liposomal MLP at 37 °C for 1 h. We measured MLP and its rate of conversion to MMC by HPLC. Controls included plasma, malignant effusions, red blood cells, tumor cell lines, mouse liver, and buffer with dithiothreitol, a potent reducing agent. Results: Most patients tested (16/20) were diagnosed with colo-rectal carcinoma. The average fraction of MLP cleaved per 100-mg tumor tissue (21.1%, SEM = 1.8) was greater than per 100-mg normal tissue (16.6%, SEM = 1.3). When the tumor and normal tissue samples were paired by patient, the difference was statistically significant (p = 0.022, paired t test). Biological fluids did not activate liposomal MLP, while normal liver tissue strongly does. Interestingly, the omental fatty tissue also greatly activated MLP. Conclusions: Tumor tissue homogenates activate MLP with greater efficiency than the surrounding normal tissues, but far less than liver and adipose tissue. These observations demonstrate the bioavailability of liposomal MLP in human tumors, and its pharmacologic potential in cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-114
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Gastro-intestinal cancer
  • Lipophilic prodrugs
  • Thiolytic activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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