Background: Tumor hypoxia induces vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, which stimulates angiogenesis and tumor proliferation. The VEGF signaling pathway is inhibited by soluble VEGF receptors (soluble fetal liver kinase 1; sFlk-1), which bind VEGF and block its interaction with endothelial cells. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) amplicons are replication-incompetent viruses used for gene delivery. We attempted to attenuate angiogenesis and inhibit pancreatic tumor growth through HSV amplicon-mediated expression of sFlk-1 under hypoxic control. Methods: A multimerized hypoxia-responsive enhancer (10 x HRE) was cloned upstream of the sFlk-1 gene (10 x HRE/sFlk-1). A novel HSV amplicon expressing 10 x HRE/sFlk-1 was genetically engineered (HSV10 x HRE/sFlk-1).Human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells (AsPC1) were transduced with HSV10 x HRE/sFlk-1 and incubated in normoxia (21% oxygen) or hypoxia (1% oxygen). Capillary inhibition was evaluated by human umbilical vein endothelial cell assay. Western blot assessed sFlk-1 expression. AsPC1 flank tumor xenografts (n = 24) were transduced with HSV10 x HRE/sFlk-1. Results: Media from normoxic AsPC1 transduced with HSV10 x HRE/sFlk-1 yielded a 36% reduction in capillary formation versus controls (P < .05), whereas hypoxic AsPC1 yielded a 76% reduction (P < .005). Western blot of AsPC1 transduced with HSV10 x HRE/sFlk-1 demonstrated greater sFlk-1 expression in hypoxia versus normoxia. AsPC1 flank tumors treated with HSV10 x HRE/sFlk-1 exhibited a 59% reduction in volume versus controls (P < .000001). Conclusions: HSV amplicon delivery of a hypoxia-inducible soluble VEGF receptor significantly reduces new vessel formation and tumor growth. Tumor hypoxia can thus be used to direct antiangiogenic therapy to pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
- Herpes simplex virus
- Pancreatic cancer
- Vascular endothelial growth factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas