Purpose: Interleukin 12 (IL-12) has shown strong antitumoral effects in numerous pre-clinical studies and appears to act synergistically with radiation in murine tumors. The major impediment to its clinical use has been its systemic toxicity. While using intratumorally injected viral gene therapy vectors encoding IL-12 reduces systemic side effects substantially, elevated systemic transgene levels are still observed because adenovirus can reach the circulation. Further restricting IL-12 expression in the tumor is therefore desirable in a combined radiation and adenovirus mediated cancer gene therapy regimen. METHODS AND MATERILAS: Hyperthermia-regulated gene therapy was tested in a nonimmunogenic B16.F10 melanoma line that is syngeneic with C57BL/6 mice. For hyperthermic gene therapy, an adenoviral vector coding for IL-12 under the control of the promoter of the human heat shock protein 70B (hsp70B) was used. One week after transplantation (at a 5-7 mm diameter), tumors were irradiated with 3 x 11 Gy (mo-we-fri). Adenovirus was injected at 3 x 10(8) pfu/tumor 24 h before the last radiation fraction or 3 days afterwards. Hyperthermia was performed 24 h later at 42.5 degrees C. Growth delay to reaching 3 times initial tumor volume was chosen as the biologic endpoint. IL-12 levels in tumor and serum were determined by using the enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA).
Results: Adenovirus mediated intratumoral expression of IL-12 under the control of a heat inducible promoter in combination with hyperthermia is almost as effective as that under the control of a constitutive cytomegaly virus (CMV) promoter while systemic transgene levels are substantially reduced with the heat inducible promoter. The response to radiotherapy is improved considerably when combined with heat inducible gene therapy without apparent systemic toxicity. When used as a single dose, applying IL-12 gene therapy after completion of radiotherapy appears to be beneficial.
Conclusions: Hyperthermia-regulated gene therapy in combination with radiation is feasible and therapeutically effective in murine tumors with no apparent systemic toxicity.