Systemic therapy of experimental breast cancer metastases by mutant vesicular stomatitis virus in immune-competent mice

Cancer Gene Ther. 2005 Apr;12(4):350-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.cgt.7700794.


In view of the limited success of available treatment modalities for metastatic breast cancer, alternative and complementary strategies need to be developed. Oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a promising novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of recombinant VSV containing the M51R mutation in the matrix (M) protein gene administered intravenously as an effective and safe therapeutic agent for treating mice with experimental breast cancer metastases. Recombinant VSV(M51R)-LacZ was generated and characterized in vitro on human and murine breast cancer cells. Breast cancer metastases were established in immune-competent Balb/c mice by intravenous injection of syngeneic 4T1 cells. The vector was infused into the tumor-bearing animals via the tail vein, and productive infection of pulmonary breast cancer lesions was assessed by X-gal stainings of frozen lung sections. To evaluate potential systemic toxicity, histology of major organs and serum chemistries were analyzed. To assess effectiveness, buffer- or vector-treated tumor-bearing mice were followed for survival and the results were analyzed by the Kaplan-Meier method and the log-rank test. We found that VSV(M51R)-LacZ efficiently replicated and lysed human breast cancer cells but was partially attenuated in 4T1 cells in vitro. We also demonstrated that its maximum tolerated dose after intravenous infusion in normal Balb/c mice was elevated by at least 100-fold over that of the parental VSV vector containing the wild-type M gene. When VSV(M51R)-LacZ was repeatedly injected intravenously into mice bearing syngeneic 4T1 tumors, the virus was able to infect multiple breast cancer lesions in the lungs without apparent toxicities, which led to significant prolongation of animal survival (P=.003). In conclusion, systemic administration of M mutant VSV is both effective and safe in the treatment of experimental breast cancer metastases in immune-competent mice, suggesting that further development of this approach may have potential for clinical application in patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Female
  • Galactosides / pharmacology
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Lac Operon
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / genetics*
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / metabolism
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / genetics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Galactosides
  • Indoles
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl beta-galactoside