Recent results in experimental brain tumors indicate that transfer of sensitizing genes to tumor cells in vivo with subsequent drug treatment can reduce tumor masses and prolong the survival of rodents. In the present study, the 9L rat gliosarcoma model was used to evaluate the therapeutic effectiveness of the herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase (HSV-tk) gene, delivered by a retrovirus vector, against tumor cells in the rat brain after systemic application of the nucleoside analogue ganciclovir (GCV). The HSV-tk gene was inserted into a retroviral vector (pMFG), which was produced using the amphotropic packaging cell line CRIP-MFG-S-HSV-TK. Packaging cells were implanted into established 9L tumors in the brains of syngeneic rats to effect gene delivery to tumor cells, followed by intraperitoneal GCV injections. Treated animals survived significantly longer (more than twice as long) than did the control groups. Brains from GCV-treated and nontreated animals were examined immunohistochemically at different time intervals after grafting of CRIP-MFG-S-HSV-TK cells and GCV treatment. Tumors in GCV-treated animals were significantly smaller as compared with nontreated animals at all time points. Sections stained immunohistochemically for HSV-TK confirmed gene transfer to tumor cells, which could be distinguished from packaging cells by different morphology and immunohistochemical staining for the retroviral envelope protein gp70. Approximately 45% of the cells in tumors implanted with CRIP-MFG-S-HSV-TK cells, but not treated with GCV, showed immunocytochemical staining for HSV-TK, demonstrating a high-efficiency of retrovirus-mediated gene transfer. Tumors in rats treated with packaging cells and GCV showed only 9% HSV-TK-positive cells after treatment, indicating that most cells expressing the HSV-tk gene were killed. The success of this therapeutic modality in experimental animals depends in large parts on the high efficiency of gene delivery and on the immune response against tumor cells.
View details for Web of Science ID A1996UE28600004
View details for PubMedID 8729908