Metastatic prostate cancer in bone is difficult to treat as the tumor cells are relatively resistant to hormonal or chemotherapies when compared to primary prostate cancer. Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a minimally invasive ablation procedure that has potential applications in the management of prostate cancer in bone. However, a common limitation of IRE is tumor recurrence, which arises from incomplete ablation that allows remaining cancer cells to proliferate. In this study, we combined IRE with radium-223 (Ra-223), a bone-seeking radionuclide that emits short track length alpha particles and thus is associated with reduced damage to the bone marrow and evaluated the impact of the combination treatment on bone-forming prostate cancer tumors.


The antitumor activity of IRE and Ra-223 as single agents and in combination was tested in vitro against three bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4)-expressing prostate cancer cell lines (C4-2B-BMP4, Myc-CaP-BMP4, and TRAMP-C2-BMP4). Similar evaluation was performed in vivo using a bone-forming C4-2B-BMP4 tumor model in nude mice.


IRE and Ra-223 as monotherapy inhibited prostate cancer cell proliferation in vitro, and their combination resulted in significant reduction in cell viability compared to monotherapy. In vivo evaluation revealed that IRE with single-dose administration of Ra-233, compared to IRE alone, reduced the rate of tumor recurrence by 40% following initial apparent complete ablation and decreased the rate of proliferation of incompletely ablated tumor as quantified in Ki-67 staining (53.58 ± 16.0% for IRE vs. 20.12 ± 1.63%; for IRE plus Ra-223; p = 0.004). Histological analysis qualitatively showed the enhanced killing of tumor cells adjacent to bone by Ra-223 compared to those treated with IRE alone.


IRE in combination with Ra-223, which enhanced the destruction of cancer cells that are adjacent to bone, resulted in reduction of tumor recurrence through improved clearance of proliferative cells in the tumor region.


Radium-223; bone metastasis; bone morphogenic protein-4; irreversible electroporation; prostate cancer.

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