DOI: 10.3390/ijms242317065 ISSN: 1422-0067

An Overview of the Use of Anti-Angiogenic Agents in the Treatment of Thymic Epithelial Tumors

Apostolos C. Agrafiotis, Lawek Berzenji, Stien Koyen, Dries Vermeulen, Rachel Winthagen, Jeroen M. H. Hendriks, Paul E. Van Schil
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Angiogenesis significantly influences the carcinogenesis of thymic epithelial tumors (TET). Both thymomas and thymic carcinoma (TC) overexpress VEGF-A and VEGFR-1 and -2. This review aims to provide an appraisal of the use of anti-angiogenics in the treatment of TET. The literature research identified 16 studies that were deemed eligible for further analysis. Seven studies assessed the clinical efficacy of sunitinib and five studies the use of apatinib and/or anlotinib. The multicenter Japanese phase II REMORA trial investigated the efficacy of lenvatinib, which is a multi-targeted inhibitor of VEGFR, FGFR, RET, c-Kit, and other kinases. The objective response rate was 38% (25.6–52%), which is the highest documented in TET that progressed after first-line chemotherapy. Anti-angiogenic agents may be useful in the treatment of TET, which are not amenable to curative treatment. Their toxicity profile seems to be acceptable. However, angiogenesis inhibitors do not appear to have a major influence on either thymomas or TC, although multikinase inhibitors may have some effect on TC. The current evidence suggests that the most active agent is lenvatinib, whereas sunitinib could be proposed as an acceptable second-line therapy for TC. Further research concerning the combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors with anti-angiogenic drugs is warranted.

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