Morbidity in immunosuppressed (SCID/NOD) mice treated with reovirus (dearing 3) as an anti-cancer biotherapeutic

Cancer Biol Ther. 2004 Aug;3(8):734-8. doi: 10.4161/cbt.3.8.963. Epub 2004 Aug 10.


Specific viral oncolysis of cancer cells has aroused great interest as a potential anti-cancer therapy. Reovirus was proposed as an anti-cancer biotherapeutic several years ago, as it elicits virus-mediated death of human cancer cells both in vitro and in mouse model systems. A common model system for reovirus oncolysis is the NOD/ LtSz-scid/scid (SCID/NOD) immunocomprimised mouse. While human tumour xenografts are effectively killed by intra-tumour injections of reovirus, the mice often exhibit discoloration and necrosis of extremities including feet, distal leg, tail and ears several weeks after injection. This phenomenon never occurs in sham-injected mice, nor is it observed in wild type or nude mice. The pathogenesis of this "Black Foot" lesion has not yet been described, but may be of relevance for future human studies of biotherapeutics. Examination of SCID/NOD mice was performed at various time points following intratumoral injection of reovirus. Immunohistological evaluation of tissues reveals infection of cardiac myocytes and venous endothelial cells at approximately 2 days post infection. Over time, venules and veins showed a mixed inflammatory vasculitis and thrombus formation. Synchronously, the heart showed diffuse myocyte death, with dystrophic calcification. The results indicate that the "Black Foot" syndrome is likely due to venous vasculitis secondary to reovirus infection, on a background of reovirus myocarditis and heart failure. The rationale for the selective susceptibility of venous over arterial endothelium to reovirus infection is currently unknown. The results of this study may be relevant to the use of oncolytic viruses, particularly reovirus, in the anti-cancer therapy of immunosuppressed patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / virology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, SCID
  • Myocarditis / etiology
  • Reoviridae / physiology*
  • Reoviridae Infections / pathology
  • Reoviridae Infections / therapy
  • Reoviridae Infections / virology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vasculitis / etiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology
  • Virus Replication
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays