Progression-dependent transport heterogeneity of breast cancer liver metastases as a factor in therapeutic resistance

A. Ziemys, K. Yokoi, M. Kai, Y. T. Liu, M. Kojic, V. Simic, M. Milosevic, Ashley M. Holder, M. Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Metastatic disease is a major cause of mortality in cancer patients. While many drug delivery strategies for anticancer therapeutics have been developed in preclinical studies of primary tumors, the drug delivery properties of metastatic tumors have not been sufficiently investigated. Therapeutic efficacy hinges on efficient drug permeation into the tumor microenvironment, which is known to be heterogeneous thus potentially making drug permeation heterogeneous, also. In this study, we have identified that 4 T1 liver metastases, treated with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin, have unfavorable and heterogeneous transport of doxorubicin. Our drug extravasation results differ greatly from analogous studies with 4 T1 tumors growing in the primary site. A probabilistic tumor population model was developed to estimate drug permeation efficiency and drug kinetics of liver metastases by integrating the transport and structural properties of tumors and delivered drugs. The results demonstrate significant heterogeneity in metastases with regard to transport properties of doxorubicin within the same animal model, and even within the same organ. These results also suggest that the degree of heterogeneity depends on the stage of tumor progression and that differences in transport properties can define transport-based tumor phenotypes. These findings may have valuable clinical implications by illustrating that therapeutic agents can permeate and eliminate metastases of “less resistant” transport phenotypes, while sparing tumors with more “resistant” transport properties. We anticipate that these results could challenge the current paradigm of drug delivery into metastases, highlight potential caveats for therapies that may alter tumor perfusion, and deepen our understanding of the emergence of drug transport-based therapeutic resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-105
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Dec 10 2018


  • Diffusion
  • Drug transport
  • Heterogeneity
  • Metastasis
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Therapeutic resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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