Combination of adenoviral virotherapy and temozolomide chemotherapy eradicates malignant glioma through autophagic and apoptotic cell death in vivo

Br J Cancer. 2009 Apr 7;100(7):1154-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604969. Epub 2009 Mar 10.


Conditionally replicative adenoviruses (CRAds) represent a novel treatment strategy for malignant glioma. Recent studies suggest that the cytopathic effect elicited by these vectors is mediated through autophagy, a form of programmed cell death. Likewise, temozolomide (TMZ), a chemotherapeutic agent used for the treatment of malignant gliomas, also triggers autophagic cell death. In this study, we examined the potential to combine the two treatments in the setting of experimental glioma. In vitro, pretreatment with TMZ followed by CRAd-Surivin-pk7 enhanced cytotoxicity against a panel of glioma cell lines. Western blot analysis showed increased expression of BAX and p53, decreased expression of BCL2 and elevated level of APG5. Treatment with TMZ followed by CRAd-Survivin-pk7 (CRAd-S-pk7) led to a significant over-expression of autophagy markers, acidic vesicular organelles and light-chain 3 (LC3). These results were further evaluated in vivo, in which 90% of the mice with intracranial tumours were long-term survivors (>100 days) after treatment with TMZ and CRAd-S-pk7 (P<0.01). Analysis of tumours ex vivo showed expression of both LC3 and cleaved Caspase-3, proving that both autophagy and apoptosis are responsible for cell death in vivo. These results suggest that combination of chemovirotherapy offers a powerful tool against malignant glioma and should be further explored in the clinical setting.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Autophagy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dacarbazine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glioma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / analysis
  • Mitosis
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy*
  • Temozolomide
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Map1lc3b protein, mouse
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Dacarbazine
  • Caspase 3
  • Temozolomide