Suppression of the immune response to an adenovirus vector and enhancement of intratumoral transgene expression by low-dose etoposide

Gene Ther. 1998 Feb;5(2):189-95. doi: 10.1038/


Adenoviral vectors are commonly used in gene therapy trials because of their efficiency in gene transfer. However, their use is limited by cellular and humoral immune responses that result in temporary transgene expression and reduced efficacy of repeated vector administration. We hypothesized that certain oncolytic agents commonly used to treat cancer patients could suppress the immune response to adenoviral vectors, and enable repeated adenovirus-mediated cancer gene therapy. Etoposide and cyclophosphamide were tested for their ability to suppress the humoral and cellular immune responses to an adenoviral vector in immunocompetent C3H mice. Intratumoral transgene expression was monitored in adenovirus-immunized animals treated with etoposide or cyclophosphamide. Neutralizing antibodies to adenovirus and cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) lysis of virally transduced cells were significantly suppressed in mice treated with etoposide at 2 or 10 mg/kg/day or cyclophosphamide at 10 mg/kg/day compared with untreated mice (P < 0.05). Significantly larger areas of gene transduction were observed in treated animals compared with untreated mice or the mice treated with cyclophosphamide at 2 mg/kg/day (P < 0.05). Our results suggest that repeated adenovirally mediated gene therapy is achievable in cancer patients who are concurrently undergoing treatment with chemotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Adenoviridae / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage*
  • Etoposide / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / drug effects
  • Transgenes*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Etoposide
  • Cyclophosphamide