Prostate cancer gene therapy: herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene transduction followed by ganciclovir in mouse and human prostate cancer models

Hum Gene Ther. 1996 Mar 1;7(4):515-23. doi: 10.1089/hum.1996.7.4-515.


Prostate cancer is the most common internal malignancy in men in the United States. Most cancers are diagnosed when they are locally advanced or metastatic and there is no effective treatment. In this study we evaluated the effectiveness of cytotoxic gene therapy in human PC-3 and DU145 prostate cancer cell lines and in a rodent cell line, RM-1, derived from the mouse prostate reconstitution model system. The cell lines were efficiently transduced in vitro by a replicative-defective recombinant adenovirus (ADV) carrying the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene (HSV-tk). A virus titer-dependent sensitivity to ganciclovir (GCV) was observed. To determine a target therapeutic viral dose in vivo, subcutaneous tumors were generated by injection of RM-1 cells in syngeneic male hosts and injected with escalating doses of HSV-tk virus (5 x 10(7) to 1 x 10(9) pfu). The mice received GCV twice daily for 6 days and were sacrificed when tumor volumes exceeded 2.5 cm3 or when they appeared to be in distress. Because the two highest doses were equally as effective, further controlled studies were performed with the lower dose of 5 x 10(8) pfu with ADV/RSV-tk or a control virus containing the beta-galactosidase gene (ADV/RSV-beta-Gal) and treated with GCV or saline (PBS). The mean tumor volume in the treated animals was 16% that of control animals at 13 days. Histologically, treated tumors demonstrated necrosis and had a significantly higher apoptotic index. Survival data indicated that the treatment animals lived 7 days (21 in total) longer than the control animals, with 1 treatment animal being totally free of tumor. These results demonstrate that HSV-tk + GCV cytotoxic gene therapy can inhibit the growth of mouse and human prostate cancer cells in vitro and interrupt tumor growth of an aggressive mouse prostate cancer cell line in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ganciclovir / pharmacology*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Simplexvirus / enzymology
  • Thymidine Kinase / genetics*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Thymidine Kinase
  • Ganciclovir