Sorafenib (SOR) is the only systemic agent known to improve survival for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, SOR prolongs survival by less than 3 months and does not alter symptomatic progression. To improve outcomes, several phase I-II trials are currently examining SOR with radiation (RT) for HCC utilizing heterogeneous concurrent and sequential treatment regimens. Our study provides preclinical data characterizing the effects of concurrent versus sequential RT-SOR on HCC cells both in vitro and in vivo. Concurrent and sequential RT-SOR regimens were tested for efficacy among 4 HCC cell lines in vitro by assessment of clonogenic survival, apoptosis, cell cycle distribution, and γ-H2AX foci formation. Results were confirmed in vivo by evaluating tumor growth delay and performing immunofluorescence staining in a hind-flank xenograft model. In vitro, concurrent RT-SOR produced radioprotection in 3 of 4 cell lines, whereas sequential RT-SOR produced decreased colony formation among all 4. Sequential RT-SOR increased apoptosis compared to RT alone, while concurrent RT-SOR did not. Sorafenib induced reassortment into less radiosensitive phases of the cell cycle through G1-S delay and cell cycle slowing. More double-strand breaks (DSBs) persisted 24 h post-irradiation for RT alone versus concurrent RT-SOR. In vivo, sequential RT-SOR produced the greatest tumor growth delay, while concurrent RT-SOR was similar to RT alone. More persistent DSBs were observed in xenografts treated with sequential RT-SOR or RT alone versus concurrent RT-SOR. Sequential RT-SOR additionally produced a greater reduction in xenograft tumor vascularity and mitotic index than either concurrent RT-SOR or RT alone. In conclusion, sequential RT-SOR demonstrates greater efficacy against HCC than concurrent RT-SOR both in vitro and in vivo. These results may have implications for clinical decision-making and prospective trial design.
ASJC Scopus subject areas