Transferrin-liposome-mediated p53 sensitization of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck to radiation in vitro

Hum Gene Ther. 1997 Mar 1;8(4):467-75. doi: 10.1089/hum.1997.8.4-467.


Wild-type (wt) p53 DNA was transfected into the radioresistant human cell line JSQ-3, established from a squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), using a transferrin-liposome system, and the ability of the introduced wt p53 to sensitize the transfected JSQ-3 cells to ionizing radiation was examined. Transferrin increased the in vitro transfection efficiency of cationic liposomes up to 70-80% in JSQ-3 cells, representing a 6- to 10-fold increase over liposome transfection alone. The exogenous wt p53 was expressed at high levels in transferrin-liposome-DNA-transfected cells and resulted in the reversion of the radioresistant phenotype of the JSQ-3 cells in a DNA dose-dependent manner. The D10 values were reduced from 6.36 +/- 0.54 Gy to 4.13 +/- 0.06 Gy, a value in the radiosensitive range. In vivo, the intratumoral injection of the transferrin-liposome system resulted in a higher number of transfected tumor cells in the JSQ-3 induced nude mouse xenografts when compared with transfection by liposome alone. The results indicate that the combination of p53 replacement gene transduction, mediated by the relatively safe transferrin-liposome system, and conventional ionizing radiation may provide a more effective treatment for head and neck cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy*
  • Drug Carriers
  • Genes, p53 / genetics*
  • Genes, p53 / physiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Liposomes
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Radiation Tolerance*
  • Transfection / genetics
  • Transfection / methods*
  • Transferrin / administration & dosage
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Drug Carriers
  • Liposomes
  • Transferrin
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53