High-Dose Intermittent Treatment with the Multikinase Inhibitor Sunitinib Leads to High Intra-Tumor Drug Exposure in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors

Sophie L. Gerritse, Mariette Labots, Rob Ter Heine, Henk Dekker, Dennis Poel, Daniele V. F. Tauriello, Iris D. Nagtegaal, Erik van den Hombergh, Nielka van Erp, Henk M. W. Verheul*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Patients with advanced cancer refractory to standard treatment were treated with sunitinib at a dose of 300 mg once every week (Q1W) or 700 mg once every two weeks (Q2W). Tumor, skin and plasma concentrations were measured and immunohistochemical staining for tumor cell proliferation (TCP), microvessel density (MVD) and T-cell infiltration was performed on tumor biopsies before and after 17 days of treatment. Oral administration of 300 mg sunitinib Q1W or 700 mg Q2W resulted in 19-fold (range 5–35×) and 37-fold higher (range 10–88×) tumor drug concentrations compared to parallel maximum plasma drug concentrations, respectively. Patients with higher tumor sunitinib concentrations had favorable progression-free and overall survival than those with lower concentrations (p = 0.046 and 0.024, respectively). In addition, immunohistochemistry of tumor biopsies revealed an induction of T-cell infiltration upon treatment. These findings provide pharmacological and biological insights in the clinical benefit from high-dose intermittent sunitinib treatment. It emphasizes the potential benefit from reaching higher tumor drug concentrations and the value of measuring TKI tumor- over plasma-concentrations. The finding that reaching higher tumor drug concentrations provides most clinical benefit in patients with treatment refractory malignancies indicates that the inhibitory potency of sunitinib may be enforced by a high-dose intermittent treatment schedule. These results provide proof of concept for testing other clinically available multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors in a high-dose intermittent treatment schedule.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6061
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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