Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 523–536 | Cite as

Combination therapy inhibits development and progression of mammary tumours in immunocompetent mice

  • Penelope D. Ottewell
  • Hannah K. Brown
  • Mark Jones
  • Thea L. Rogers
  • Simon S. Cross
  • Nicola J. Brown
  • Robert E. Coleman
  • Ingunn Holen
Preclinical Study


We have determined the effect of combining the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin and the anti-resorptive drug zoledronic acid on the early stages of spontaneous mammary tumour development using the immunocompetent PyMT mouse model that closely mimics human breast cancer development. 6-week-old PyMT mice were treated weekly for 6 weeks with PBS, 2 mg/kg doxorubicin, 100 μg/kg zoledronic acid or doxorubicin followed 24 h later by zoledronic acid (n = 15/group). Untreated, 6-week-old animals were used for comparison of tumour development. Tumour volume, apoptosis and angiogenesis were analysed on H&E, caspase 3, CD31 and CD34 stained histological sections. Proliferation was measured by BrdU incorporation and Ki67 staining and tumour macrophage infiltration assessed by F4/80 immunohistochemistry. Animals treated with doxorubicin followed by zoledronic acid did not develop palpable mammary tumours, whereas in all other treatment groups tumours progressed to late stage adenocarcinomas. Tumours from the combination treatment group were of comparable size to those in 6-week-old untreated animals, remaining pre-malignant with well-differentiated acinar arrangements and with tumour volume only reaching on average 26% of that in the PBS control group. Tumour cell apoptosis and proliferation was significantly reduced compared to control, single agent or untreated 6-week-old mice. Significantly fewer circulating tumour cells were present in animals following sequential treatment compared to all other groups. Combination treatment with doxorubicin followed by zoledronic acid inhibits development and progression of spontaneously occurring mammary tumours.


Doxorubicin Zoledronic acid Breast cancer PyMT-MMTV/FVB Bisphosphonates 



We would like to thank Mrs Jenny Globe (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom) for cutting histological tissue sections, Mrs Alyson Evans and Mrs Diane Lefley for performing immunohistochemistry and Dr. Jonathan Green (Novartis Pharma, Switzerland) for the kind gift of zoledronic acid. This study was funded by Breast Cancer Campaign, UK.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Penelope D. Ottewell
    • 1
  • Hannah K. Brown
    • 1
  • Mark Jones
    • 4
  • Thea L. Rogers
    • 1
  • Simon S. Cross
    • 2
  • Nicola J. Brown
    • 3
  • Robert E. Coleman
    • 1
  • Ingunn Holen
    • 1
  1. 1.Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology, Medical SchoolUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Academic Unit of PathologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Academic Unit of Surgical Oncology, Medical SchoolUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  4. 4.Centre for Stem Cell ResearchUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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