Background: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are critical for metastasis of tumor cells. Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1), a natural MMP inhibitor, was shown to reduce metastasis in different models. Here, we investigated whether increased TIMP-1 levels in the liver achieved by adenoviral gene transfer will effectively inhibit liver metastasis of two independent tumor cell lines.
Method: TIMP-1 was transferred with adenoviral vectors into the livers of DBA/2 and Balb/c mice, which were subsequently challenged by hematogenous experimental metastases of the T-cell lymphoma cell line L-CI.5s or the colorectal carcinoma cell line CT-26, respectively.
Results: MMP-9 expression in the liver was induced upon metastasis in both tumor types. Adenoviral gene transfer led to high transduction efficacy as indicated by lacZ expression in 60% of hepatocytes. TIMP-1, a key inhibitor of MMP-9, was expressed at 10(5)-fold higher levels by adenoviral gene transfer as compared with levels achieved in TIMP-1 transgenic mice, previously shown to be inefficient to reduce T-cell lymphoma metastasis. High local and systemic (serum) levels of TIMP-1 led to substantial (94%) reduction of T-cell lymphoma and colorectal carcinoma (73%) experimental liver metastasis.
Conclusions: Adenoviral gene transfer led to systemic and local TIMP-1 levels sufficient to inhibit metastasis of a highly aggressive T-cell lymphoma, pointing at the requirement of threshold levels for effective anti-metastatic efficacy. This approach was also efficient in a colon carcinoma solid tumor model. We propose that viral gene transfer of TIMP-1 can provide a suitable defense strategy to prevent metastatic spread to the liver.