Inhibitors of C5 complement enhance vaccinia virus oncolysis

Cancer Gene Ther. 2013 Jun;20(6):342-50. doi: 10.1038/cgt.2013.26. Epub 2013 May 10.


Genetically engineered tumor-selective vaccinia virus (VV) has been demonstrated to be a highly effective oncolytic agent, but immune clearance may limit its therapeutic potential. As previously demonstrated, immunosuppression can lead to significant enhancement of viral recovery and therapeutic effect, but the magnitude of complement-mediated viral inactivation has not been fully elucidated and warrants further investigation. Using fluorescent microscopy and quantitative plaque assays, we have determined complement's key role in viral clearance and its multi-faceted means to pathogen destruction. Complement can lead to direct viral destruction and inhibition of viral uptake into cells, even in the absence of anti-vaccinia antibodies. Our data demonstrate C5 to be integral to the clearance pathway, and its inhibition by Staphylococcal superantigen-like protein leads to a 90-fold and 150-fold enhancement of VV infectivity in both the presence and absence of anti-VV antibodies, respectively. This study suggests that complement inhibition may reduce vaccinia viral neutralization and may be critical to future in vivo work.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / genetics
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Complement C5 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression*
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy
  • Oncolytic Viruses / genetics*
  • Oncolytic Viruses / immunology
  • Vaccinia virus / genetics*
  • Vaccinia virus / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Complement C5