Adenovirus gene transfer vectors inhibit growth of lymphatic tumor metastases independent of a therapeutic transgene
Adenovirus (Ad) gene transfer vectors traffic to regional lymph nodes (RLNs) after footpad injections in mice, resulting in localized production of interferon gamma (IFN-gamma). With this background, we evaluated the hypothesis that Ad vector administration may inhibit RLN tumor metastasis independent of the transgene in the expression cassette. Tumors of MM48, a cell line with a propensity toward lymphogenous metastasis, were established in the footpads of syngeneic C3H mice, and E1(-)E3(-) Ad vectors encoding no transgene (AdNull) or encoding an irrelevant transgene (AdCD; Escherichia coli cytosine deaminase with no 5-fluorocytosine administration) were administered (10(10) particles) in a peritumoral location. Both vectors suppressed the growth of tumor in the regional (popliteal) lymph node. This effect was localized to the regional, but not distant, lymph nodes (p < 0.05). Heat inactivation of the vector or decreasing the dose of the vector to 10(9) particles did not suppress RLN growth of the tumor when compared with 10(10) particles of active AdNull (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). The ability of an E1(-)E4(-) vector expressing beta-galactosidase (AdRSVbetagal.11) to suppress RLN tumor growth showed that the E4 region of the Ad vector was not responsible for the effect. Blocking either IFN-gamma or natural killer (NK) cells with systemic antibody treatment in immunocompetent mice allowed rapid growth of RLN metastases despite Ad vector administration, and Ad vector injection into the footpads of tumor-free mice induced the accumulation of NK cells in the RLN. These data demonstrate that, in a metastatic murine tumor model, a low dose (10(10) particles) of replication-deficient Ad vectors inhibits RLN metastases independent of a therapeutic transgene, an effect that is mediated, at least in part, by IFN-gamma and NK cells.