Intravascular delivery of neural stem cell lines to target intracranial and extracranial tumors of neural and non-neural origin

Hum Gene Ther. 2003 Dec 10;14(18):1777-85. doi: 10.1089/104303403322611782.


The remarkable migratory and tumor-tropic capacities of neural stem cells (NSCs and/or neuroprogenitor cells) represent a potentially powerful approach to the treatment of invasive brain tumors, such as malignant gliomas. We have previously shown that whether implanted directly into or at distant sites from an experimental intracranial glioma, NSCs distributed efficiently throughout the main tumor mass and also tracked advancing tumor cells, while stably expressing a reporter transgene. As therapeutic proof-of-concept, NSCs genetically modified to produce the prodrug activating enzyme cytosine deaminase (CD), effected an 80% reduction in the resultant tumor mass, when tumor animals were treated with the systemic prodrug, 5-fluorocytosine. We now extend our findings of the tumor-tropic properties of NSCs (using a well-characterized, clonal NSC line C17.2), by investigating their capacity to target both intracranial and extracranial tumors, when administered into the peripheral vasculature. We furthermore demonstrate their capacity to target extracranial non-neural tumors such as prostate cancer and malignant melanoma. Well-characterized NSC lines (lacZ and/or CD-positive) were injected into the tail vein of adult nude mice with established experimental intracranial and/or subcutaneous flank tumors of neural and non-neural origin. The time course and distribution of NSCs within the tumor and internal organs was assessed in various models. Resulting data suggest that NSCs can localize to various tumor sites when injected via the peripheral vasculature, with little accumulation in normal tissues. Our findings suggest the novel use of intravascularly administered NSCs as an effective delivery vehicle to target and disseminate therapeutic agents to invasive tumors of neural and nonneural origin, both within and outside of the brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cytosine Deaminase / genetics
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Glioma / genetics*
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glioma / therapy*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Nervous System / cytology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Transgenes*
  • Tropism


  • Cytosine Deaminase