Oncolytic herpesvirus effectively treats murine squamous cell carcinoma and spreads by natural lymphatics to treat sites of lymphatic metastases

Hum Gene Ther. 2002 Jul 1;13(10):1213-23. doi: 10.1089/104303402320138998.


Oncolytic herpesviruses have significant antitumoral effects in animal models when delivered directly to established tumors. Lymphatic metastases are a common occurrence for many tumor types. This study investigates the potential of an attenuated, replication-competent, oncolytic herpes simplex virus (NV1023) both to treat a primary tumor by direct injection and to travel through the lymphatic system to treat metastatic tumor within the lymph nodes draining lymph from the site of primary cancer. Isosulfan blue dye was injected into murine auricles to determine normal lymphatic drainage patterns and demonstrated consistent blue staining of a group of ipsilateral cervical lymph nodes. Auricular injections of NV1023 resulted in viral transit to these lymph nodes as measured by 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-beta-D-galactopyranoside histochemistry and viral plaque assay. An oncolytic herpesvirus (NV1066) expressing green fluorescent protein also demonstrated viral transit from the auricle to the cervical lymph nodes on fluorescence microscopy. Using the SCC VII cell line, a novel murine model of auricular squamous cell carcinoma was developed with an approximately 20% incidence of cervical lymph node metastases. Delivery of NV1023 or NV1066 to the surgical beds after excision of auricular SCC VII tumors resulted in successful viral infection of metastatic SCC VII cells within the cervical lymph nodes. After a 7-week follow-up, significantly enhanced locoregional control (p < 0.05, Fisher exact test) and disease-free survival (p < 0.05, log rank test) were evident with NV1023 treatment. This study demonstrates that the delivery of an oncolytic herpesvirus to a primary tumor site after surgical excision may have a significant impact on reducing both primary site recurrence and regional nodal metastases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Cell Line
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Herpesviridae / physiology*
  • Lymph Nodes / anatomy & histology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H