The human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) promoter can selectively drive transgene expression in many telomerase-positive human cancer cells. Here we evaluated combination therapy of adenoviral vector Ad-hTERT-CD encoding E. coli cytosine deaminase (CD) driven by the hTERT promoter and low-dose etoposide (0.1 μg/mL) for treating bladder cancer. Ad-hTERT-CD conferred sensitivity to 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) in bladder cancer cells, which could be enhanced by etoposide treatment, but not in normal cells. Such effect was correlated with up-regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α expression. By contrast, etoposide activated p53 and down-regulated hTERT promoter activity in normal cells. Etoposide also increased adenoviral infection via enhancement of coxsackie-adenovirus receptor expression on bladder cancer and normal cells. Combination index analysis revealed that combined therapy of Ad-hTERT-CD (109 plaque-forming units)/5-FC (200 mg/kg) with etoposide (2 mg/kg) synergistically suppressed tumor growth and prolonged survival in mice bearing syngeneic MBT-2 bladder tumors. This combination therapy regimen induced complete tumor regression and generated antitumor immunity in 75% of tumor-bearing mice. Furthermore, increased infiltrating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and necrosis within tumors were found in mice receiving combination therapy of Ad-hTERT-CD and etoposide compared with those treated with either treatment alone. Thus, the potential high therapeutic index of the combination therapy may be an appealing therapeutic intervention for bladder cancer. Furthermore, because a majority of human tumors exhibit high telomerase activity, adenovirus-mediated CD gene therapy driven by the hTERT promoter in combination with low-dose etoposide may be applicable to a broad spectrum of cancers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research