Suicide HSVtk gene delivery by neurotensin-polyplex nanoparticles via the bloodstream and GCV treatment specifically inhibit the growth of human MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast cancer tumors xenografted in athymic mice

Rosa A. Castillo-Rodríguez, Martha L. Arango-Rodríguez, Lourdes Escobedo, Daniel Hernandez-Baltazar, Anne Gompel, Patricia Forgez, Daniel Martínez-Fong

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21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The human breast adenocarcinoma cell line MDA-MB-231 has the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) phenotype, which is an aggressive subtype with no specific treatment. MDA-MB-231 cells express neurotensin receptor type 1 (NTSR1), which makes these cells an attractive target of therapeutic genes that are delivered by the neurotensin (NTS)-polyplex nanocarrier via the bloodstream. We addressed the relevance of this strategy for TNBC treatment using NTS-polyplex nanoparticles harboring the herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSVtk) suicide gene and its complementary prodrug ganciclovir (GCV). The reporter gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a control. NTS-polyplex successfully transfected both genes in cultured MDA-MB-231 cells. The transfection was demonstrated pharmacologically to be dependent on activation of NTSR1. The expression of HSVtk gene decreased cell viability by 49% (P<0.0001) and induced apoptosis in cultured MDA-MB-231 cells after complementary GCV treatment. In the MDA-MB-231 xenograft model, NTS-polyplex nanoparticles carrying either the HSVtk gene or GFP gene were injected into the tumors or via the bloodstream. Both routes of administration allowed the NTS-polyplex nanoparticles to reach and transfect tumorous cells. HSVtk expression and GCV led to apoptosis, as shown by the presence of cleaved caspase-3 and Apostain immunoreactivity, and significantly inhibited the tumor growth (55-60%) (P<0.001). At the end of the experiment, the weight of tumors transfected with the HSVtk gene was 55% less than that of control tumors (P<0.05). The intravenous transfection did not induce apoptosis in peripheral organs. Our results offer a promising gene therapy for TNBC using the NTS-polyplex nanocarrier.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere97151
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 13 May 2014
Externally publishedYes

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