Purpose: In cytokine immunotherapy of cancer it is critical to deliver sufficiently high local cytokine concentrations in order to reach the therapeutic threshold needed for clinical efficacy. Simultaneously, for optimal clinical safety adverse effects caused by high systemic cytokine levels must be minimized. One of the most promising anti-cancer therapeutic cytokines, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), has elicited anti-tumour immune responses in animal studies and clinical trials. However, the clinical efficacy has been limited, with local GM-CSF levels being therapeutically insufficient and systemic toxicity being a limiting factor. Methods: To address these problems we have developed a novel GM-CSF expression vector, pAD-HotAmp-GM-CSF, which can provide high levels of GM-CSF expression, and induction of cytokine expression to limited tissue areas. This expression system combines inducible and amplifying elements in a single multi-genic construct. The first transcriptional unit contains the inducible element, the heat shock protein 70B (HSP70B) promoter that regulates expression of the transcription-activating factor tat. Results: Upon the binding of tat to the second promoter, the HIV2 long terminal repeat amplifies downstream gene expression of the therapeutic cytokine GM-CSF. Moderate hyperthermia at 42°C for 30 min induced GM-CSF expression in pAD-HotAmp-GM-CSF that was over 2.5- and 2.8-fold higher than levels reached with HSP70B promoter alone and the prototypical human cytomegalovirus promoter. Conclusions: Thus, the inducible amplifier vector, pAD-HotAmp-GM-CSF, represents a novel system for regulated and enhanced GM-CSF expression, which enables both greater efficacy and safety in cytokine immunotherapy of cancer.
- Amplifier vector
- Localized expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology